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Another Love Ulster march makes me 'queasy', reveals Charlie Bird after he suffered assault in 2006 riot

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Charlie Bird

Charlie Bird

Charlie Bird

A PROPOSED 'Love Ulster' march down Dublin's O'Connell Street would be "very provocative," warned retired journalist Charlie Bird who was viciously assaulted at a previous march.

The former RTE chief news correspondent said plans by loyalist activist Willie Frazer to bring 200 marchers and a loyalist band onto the streets of Dublin in January or February made him feel "very queasy."

The top reporter suffered a fractured cheekbone and required treatment for a year after he was attacked by drunken yobs who rioted during the first 'Love Ulster' march in Dublin in 2006.

Rioting

"I do believe people have a right to protest peacefully ... but I think plans to march down O'Connell Street would be very provocative," he said.

"Of course, I would not be reporting on it this time. I don't like getting my face kicked in. I would be very queasy about them marching down O'Connell Street again," said the 65-year-old media legend.

He said the rioting in 2006 was not committed by the Love Ulster marchers but by a crowd throwing missiles at gardai who were policing the event.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court sentenced Dubliner Graham Hanapy to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to violent disorder and assault in relation to the attack on Mr Bird.

The court was told the reporter was struck in the face, knocked to the ground and punched again by an intoxicated Hanapy who called the journalist "an Orange bastard". The reporter was also struck by another man.

Mr Bird told the Herald: "I had feared I was going to be attacked again and I ran. I ran so fast that I pulled so many muscles I needed physiotherapy for well over a year ."

Mr Frazer, the Love Ulster organiser, said he is planning a new event early next year as a result of the Irish Government announcement that it will ask the European Court of Human Rights to examine the "hooded men" case, involving 12 men who said they had hoods placed over their heads and were tortured by British soldiers during internment in 1971.

trouble

He said that the Irish Government had failed to engage with the families of Protestant victims of the Kingsmills massacre. The march in Dublin would seek justice and equality, he said.

Charlie Bird said the potential for trouble at such a march would come from other people "with all sorts of other reasons" for causing trouble on the day.

He said Mr Frazer should follow the example of Ian Paisley who made protest visits to Dublin without needing to march as well.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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