Love Ulster will march in Dublin ‘within weeks’
LOYALIST Willie Frazer has said the Love Ulster march will go ahead in Dublin "in the next couple of weeks" after he met senior garda officers yesterday.
The high-level meeting took place at Balbriggan Garda Station yesterday morning, with Chief Supt Pat Leahy of Store Street Garda Station and Det Chief Supt John Gilligan of the force's Liaison and Protection section, in attendance.
A group representing Dublin businesses said today they were confident there will be no repeat of the violent scenes that marred the 2006 event.
Mr Frazer told the Herald that gardai were "more than happy" to facilitate the march.
"It was certainly a very good meeting" he said. "The guards don't have an issue with us coming down. They said they will give us the protection we need. The march will happen in the next couple of weeks."
Gardai would not comment for operational reasons.
Mr Frazer said that while a date had been agreed, he was not yet happy to reveal it as it would "give the troublemakers time to prepare".
Earlier this month, Cllr Jim O'Callaghan submitted a motion to Dublin City Council expressing opposition to the march, though councillors did not get to vote on it as the meeting ran out of time.
Mr Frazer said gardai had asked him to reduce the number of bands present. He expected "about 200 to 300 people" to join the march through O'Connell Street to Leinster House.
A similar march in 2006 was abandoned after hundreds of protesters rioted and threw missiles.
The Dublin Town business group said it was confident that gardai would be able to manage the march whenever it happens, as long as there were no more than a few hundred participants.
"I think a lot of lessons were learned after the last one in 2006, and we have had the visit of Queen Elizabeth since and that went well," said spokesman Richard Guiney.
"The footfall in Dublin city is around 350,000 on a Saturday now, so a few hundred people should not present a problem.
"I think they will be let march and it will be business as usual.
"We have seen good policing at many demonstrations that were much bigger. I have confidence in the gardai."
Dublin Chamber of Commerce spokesman Graeme McQuinn said consultation between organisers and gardai was welcome as "proper planning" for the event.
"If it's going to happen, then to prevent disruption it is very important that it is planned properly. People have a right to protest, but it is also important to keep the city functioning," he said.
"It is vital that nothing is allowed to happen that could jeopardise our international reputation.
"With proper planning and the gardai being kept up to date, the negative stuff can be avoided."