Protestant civil rights ‘eroded’

Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com
Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com

Up to 1,000 loyalists marched through Derry’s Waterside on Sunday to protest at the “erosion” of Protestant civil rights.

Carrying a banner that read “The innocent victims of Ulster cry out for justice”, as well as Union flags, several hundred people gathered at Bonds Street before parading along the main Derry to Belfast road and along Irish Street before returning to Bonds Street for speeches.

Photo Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com

Photo Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com

Prominent loyalist Willie Frazer, local DUP councillor Gary Middleton, and UKIP councillor Henry Reilly were among those who addressed the crowd using a loudspeaker.

As well as voicing anger at the recent decision of Belfast City centre to reduce the number of days the Union flag is flown from Belfast City Hall, speakers also called for justice for innocent victims of the Troubles and repeated their claims that loyalist culture was being undermined.

Willie Frazer, of the Ulster People’s Forum, said the protest sent a message to Stormont that the rights of unionists and loyalists were being eroded.

He added: “We have no rights... The people across Northern Ireland are sick to the back teeth with what’s going on.

“We now want justice, freedom and respect and we want our culture to be left alone.”

Police maintained a low profile during the demonstration.

The march organisers had originally indicated they wanted to parade to Ebrington Square but had a change of heart before the weekend and changed the route.

The Parades Commission had directed that participants were not to carry flags or emblems “which may be seen as provocative”.

This directive followed concerns that flags bearing the insignia of the Parachute Regiment - which appeared on a number of approach roads into the city over the past week - may be carried on the march.