Belfast says a resounding ‘Yes’ to welcoming Syrian refugees by outnumbering anti-refugee protest
Belfast said a resounding ‘Yes’ to welcoming Syrian refugees by outnumbering an anti-refugee protest that included convicted killer Glen Kane.
Members of the Protestant Coalition, led by loyalist campaigners Willie Frazer and Rab McKee, staged a damp squib of a ‘rally’ at Belfast City Hall.
They had called for mass support to turn up to show their anger at Syrian refugee families being housed in Northern Ireland.
But the public gave Willie and his rag-tag bunch a metaphorical bloody nose as we only counted 37 anti-refugee protesters.
They included regular far right activists including Steven Moore, the former boss of the Northern Ireland BNP, and Glen Kane who’s a convicted sectarian killer.
Fifty yards away several hundred people gathered in a counter-demonstration to show their support for the refugees and their opposition to what they see as fascism.
Steven Moore takes part in a anti-refugee rally at Belfast City Hall
They amassed to the sound of ethnic drums and included activists from religious groups, the Green Party and the group Belfast Anti-Fascists.
Metal barriers and a large police presence separated the groups but there was no tension in the air as everyone involved – on both sides – protested peacefully in the wind and rain.
Shoppers went about their business as normal on what was expected to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
And some of the anti-refugee protesters were even caught shuffling to the beat of the African-style drum music being belted out by protesters on the other side.
The protest was organised ahead of the arrival of Syrian refugees to Northern Ireland in 10 days’ time.
The group of 51 people include a baby aged just two weeks old and four other children.
Willie Frazer said that bringing them here was “madness”.
One of the other leading figures protesting alongside the Protestant Coalition was Steven Moore.
He’s the former boss of the BNP here and is now a senior figure in a shadowy new far-right group that call themselves Ulster Awake.
We recently highlighted leaflets Ulster Awake were handing out in Larne and at an Irish League football match in Lurgan which warned that mass immigration would allow violent Jihadists to flood into Ulster.
And joining him was shaven-headed convicted killer Glen Kane.
BNP devotee Kane was convicted of causing the death of a Catholic man in 1992 during a sectarian riot.
He was among a group of men who battered 35-year-old Catholic Kieran Patrick Abram to death.
Some of the men used wooden planks with nails in them during the savage attack which took place in the early hours of the morning near an army barracks at North Howard Street.
Originally charged with murder, Kane and one other pleaded guilty to manslaughter, three others were convicted of the same offence.
Kane, who was 26 at the time of the killing, was described as being very immature and was sentenced to nine years in jail.
Protesting in support of the refuges David Aitken from Strabane said: “These people need our help and we are here to show our support for them and to confront the fascists on the other side.”
Judyta Szacillo from the Northern Ireland Green Party explained why she had come to show support for the refugees.
“We are from the Green Party and we are supportive of being human and giving help to those who need it and we are very happy with the decision of our government to accept refugees from Syria and other countries where there is war,” said the Polish woman who has been living here for 10 years.
“And we are here to express our gratitude that they are doing that. And wanted to show our opposition to xenophobia and the ungrounded fears about people who are here because they need our help.”
David Aitken from Strabane said: “These people need our help and we are here to show our support for them and to confront the Fascists on the other side.”
President of the Methodist Church, the Reverend Brian Anderson said he has a problem with the intentions behind the rally.
“It’s done on a ticket of anti-refugee and anti-terrorism in the name of the Protestant people,” he said.
“I have two major difficulties with that: firstly in the name of Protestantism, my understanding of the Protestant faith is that we welcome the stranger, secondly is the link between the refugee and terrorists, I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest that those people coming into our country are in any way linked with terrorist organisation.”