Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Loyalist March Abandoned

From the March, 2006 edition of Saoirse:

The scenes witnessed in Dublin city centre on February
25 only serve to illustrate how out of touch the
26-County political establishment was with the depth
of opposition to the routing of a loyalist march
through Dublin.
Indeed 26-County Justice Minister Michael McDowell’s
willingness to meet with the organisers of this march
while at the same time refusing to meet with the
relatives of those killed in the Britishdirected
loyalist Dublin and Monaghan bombs, or the relatives
of the Stardust tragedy, only serves to further
highlight the gulf that exists between the 26-County
political establishment and the views of ordinary
Irish people.
The people of Dublin have shown their rejection of the
ideology of sectarian hatred and bigotry represented
by those who organised this march. The
routing of such a march through Dublin was a
completely irresponsible act with scant thought given
to the consequences or the dangers it posed to people.
The Leinster House establishment was quick to mobilise
its media allies in the ‘blame-game’ which followed
the disturbances and some who should have
known better fell into line with their lies. On the
following day Irish Times journalist Patsy McGarry and
Leinster House TD Finian McGrath both broadcast the
falsehood that this newspaper’s February headline was
‘Stop loyalist march’ when it actually read ‘Oppose
loyalist march’. A protest picket against the march
sought to give the situation a political focus.
Indeed, Republican Sinn Féin ordered its members not
to carry the Irish Tricolour or black flags on the
picket. Once the loyalist march was cancelled the
protest picket was over and all members dispersed
along Parnell Square.
The charge of sectarianism was also thrown about with
abandon. It is easily answered. Rev David Frazer,
Church of Ireland minister in the Meath Diocese
(and a native of Co Down) publicly opposed the
loyalist march and claimed those taking part in it
regarded some victims of the troubles as ‘righteous’
and others as not so. After the abandoned parade he
said: “The ordinary decent unionist people of the
north of Ireland should understand that this violence
was not directed against them but against a march that
was itself very provocative.”
Justice for the Forgotten, the organisation of the
relatives of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombing also
came out in opposition to the march.
To those who scoffed at the Republican Sinn Féin
banner which read ‘Unite Catholic, Protestant and
Dissenter ...To Break the Connection with England’ it
should be pointed out that the Orange Order and
loyalist representatives do not represent Protestant
culture and neither are all Irish Protestants

One journalist, Susan McKay, who is also a Protestant,
was the only panel member on RTÉ’s Questions and
Answers who stood up to one of the
parade organisers, Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP.
Donaldson said he would rather have not marched than
be forced down O’Connell Street with the protection of
the riot squad. McKay asked him why then did the
unionist parties collude with loyalist death squads
and the British forces to force their Orange march
through the nationalist area of Whiterock in Belfast
last summer, causing three days of disturbances? The
mask slipped as Donaldson’s only response was to
accuse McKay of being disloyal to the Protestant
On March 1, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President, Republican
Sinn Féin, in a statement, refuted false accusations
made in Leinster House:
“A police report of a planned sit-down protest by
Republican Sinn Féin on the occasion of last
Saturday’s (February 25) loyalist march which has been
quoted in Leinster House is without foundation. It is
mere speculation and is not true.
“The matter of the loyalist march through the centre
of Dublin was discussed repeatedly at Ard-Chomhairle
meetings. Our information on the growing level of
disquiet and opposition to it was much more accurate
than that which it appears was available to the
“powers that be”.
“We sought to give this situation a political focus
and the sole staff member who was in An Ard-Oifig on
Monday, February 20 did not refuse to give the facts
to a Garda Inspector when he visited without notice.
“All was in the open and was carried on the front page
of the January and February issues of SAOIRSE.
Republican Sinn Féin carried out its protest picket as
planned and departed from the scene in an orderly
manner when the march was cancelled.
“Earlier a delegation had laid a wreath at the
memorial to the 33 people killed in the
Dublin-Monaghan loyalist bombings in 1974. All through
our time in Cavendish Row we were corralled off by
police barriers and an open space from the crowd which
gathered in O’Connell Street.
“In point of fact we were never in O’Connell Street
but located ourselves in Cavendish Row, a small street
which connects Parnell Square and O’Connell
Street. Banner, placards and leaflets were all there
for public scrutiny and the media were constantly in
attendance throughout our presence there and can vouch
for what we are saying.
“The principal leaflet was entitled “An Address to the
People of Ireland” which made a special appeal to
those of the Unionist political persuasion. It asked
them to reconsider our ÉIRE NUA programme for a new
four-province Federal Ireland including a nine-county
Ulster in which unionists would have a working
majority, but nationalists would be within reach of
“We held a press conference three days earlier
(Wednesday, February 22) in a Dublin hotel at which we
gave interviews to UTV among others. Nothing was
hidden but false accusations have been made. Rumour
and public house talk is no substitute for accurate
“We declared this loyalist march to be ill-advised. We
believe any attempted repetition of it to be even more


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