Dublin march over Union flag may go ahead, says loyalist Willie Frazer

Conor Feehan

LOYALIST activist Willie Frazer is set to meet gardai to reorganise his controversial march to Dublin

HE ditched his previous plans to bring 150 people to Leinster House on January 12 amid fears that it could end in violence.

However, he is now formulating a new plan to put to gardai.

"It hasn't gone away. We are still going ahead with the protest but we haven't set date yet," Mr Frazer told the Herald.

"I am hoping to meet with the gardai as early as next week.

"I know I need to organise the event in conjunction with gardai and the next time I don't think I'll give as much advance notice of the protest in an effort to minimise the potential for anyone to cause trouble," he added.

"Thankfully the violent street protests here in Belfast have calmed down, the protests are more controlled, there is better public restraint, and there is better policing.

"But even though there is less reporting on it, there is still a powerful lobby here against the decision by Belfast City Council to limit the number of days the Union flag is flown," Mr Frazer added.


He said that after ten weeks there is still a gathering of between 500 and 1,000 at a weekly protest outside the City Hall every Saturday.

"We have shown the youth there is a better way than violence," he said.

There were fears last month that any Loyalist protest in Dublin could spark trouble from opposers in the capital.

Mr Frazer was involved in organising the Orange Order parade in Dublin on February 26, 2006, which was abandoned after hundreds of protesters rioted. Some 300 protesters – unconnected to the Love Ulster group – clashed with gardai in Dublin city centre yards from where 800 marchers commemorating the victims of republican violence had gathered.

The Love Ulster parade never got under way as protesters along the route broke the barriers and began attacking gardai, photographers and journalists.

Missiles including cement blocks, rocks, pipes, glass bottles and firecrackers were thrown, and a refuse skip outside the GPO was also set on fire.

The most serious violence was in the Nassau Street area, where three cars were burnt out, windscreens were smashed and businesses also had their windows broken.


Fourteen people, including six gardai, were treated in hospital as a result of the disturbances.

Gardai last month advised Mr Frazer not to proceed with his planned protest in Dublin because it would clash with the Leinster v Scarletts rugby game.

Mr Frazer had said he would not go ahead with the protest if advised by gardai, and has told the Herald that position remains the same.