Band calls on loyalists NOT to join protest

A loyalist flute band in Portadown has come out and urged its community NOT to take part in a protest planned for the Co Armagh town tonight (Friday).

Friday, 9th April 2021, 10:48 am

The call follows the emergence of a series of posters calling for the protest, with mystery still surrounding who is organising the demonstration.

Portadown True Blues Flute Band has now posted on its Facebook page questioning the legitimacy of the protest and urging Loyalists not to take part.

Their post said: “A lot of posters are circulating saying of a protest that is organised for the Portadown area this Friday night yet no one knows the organisation or organiser facilitating this protest we call all fellow loyalists NOT to attend this who knows who could be in amongst us gathering information and footage to send loyalists to the slaughter!”

The post was accompanied by an image showing a figure with what appears to be a petrol bomb in hand and the message: “Think! Is it worth it? Warning! Shadowy figures online are calling for young men to take action. Organising protests from the comfort of their home unchallenged.

“Don’t do something they won’t. They could be undercover.”

Earlier this week a Portadown councillor said that nobody in the community seems to know who is behind the protest call.

A digital flyer has been circulating online, summoning loyalists to a street near the town centre in the evening.

It reads: “Calling all loyalists/Protest in Portadown/Friday 9th at 7pm.

“Resist the NI Protocol and two-tier policing. You won’t take your country back from behind the sofa!

“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. Meet at the top of Jervis Street.”

DUP councillor Darryn Causby said: “Nobody from Portadown would consider having a protest in Jervis Street for a start.

“That for me automatically raises a red flag to say this person doesn’t know the geography of Portadown.

“Because there are a multitude of other places that lend themselves to protests. Jervis Street absolutely does not.

“It’s a narrow street that’s a quarter-of-a-mile long. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

“Having spoken to other people in the community, nobody knows who is organising this protest. Nobody has put their name to it.

“I noticed some of the bands last night were putting out a poster encouraging [people] to be aware that there are faceless individuals sitting at home, asking people to do things that they will not do.

“I understand there’s an effort to try and get this cancelled. Because there are those in the community who I know for sure don’t want any shred of violence in the town at all, and there’s a fear that whoever has organised this has made this known so the police would react to this, in order to provoke a response.”

When it comes to the unnotified parade in Portadown’s Jervis Street on Monday night – alongside similar loyalist protest parades in Markethill and Ballymena – Mr Causby said that he fears the reaction if the PSNI take action against the people involved, given their lack of action over the Storey funeral.

“I absolutely believe in the rule of law, that’s for sure,” he said. “I’d encourage people to be mindful of that.”

However he added there is a sense that the parades acted as a kind of “pressure valve”, providing a peaceful outlet for loyalist disaffection.

Should police act against people involved in those parades, he said: “I’d be telling you a lie if I said to you that I do not think anything would happen.

“I’d have a great deal of concern about that. Because the tension in the community is palpable.”