Tensioni tra la Royal British Legion e un’organizzazione lealista in vista della parata del Remebrance Day

La Royal British Legion ha fatto sapere che abbandonerà la sfilata del Remembrance Day in programma la prossima domenica a Bangor,North Down, nell’eventualità dovesse partecipare un gruppo paramilitare lealista, senza aver ricevuto alcun invito.
Una fonte vicina all’organizzazione lealista ha affermato a NewsLetter la volontà del gruppo di partecipare alla parata, che ha lo scopo di onorare il sacrificio di uomini e donne coraggiosi delle forze armate, sostenendo di averne il diritto vista la partecipazione dell’UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) alla Battle of the Somme del 1912.
Le tensioni tra le due organizzazioni sono divampate già da alcuni mesi. “Se questo gruppo si presenta senza invito andremo via, non prenderemo parte alla marcia”, ha dichiarato Bill Craig, County Manager del Royal British Legion.
Stephen Farry, di Alliance Party, ha aggiunto: “Vi è una netta distinzione da operare tra la commemorazione di coloro che hanno sacrificato la loro vita con onore al servizio del proprio Paese e nel perseguimento della pace, e di coloro che sono stati coinvolti in attività paramilitari”.
Un portavoce del North Down Borough Council, ha comunicato che gli inviti ufficiali sono stati inviati solo al personale dell’esercito e alle organizzazioni a suo sostegno.

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‘Loyalists may hijack remembrance parade’ (NewsLetter)
The Royal British Legion has warned it will “walk away” from a Remembrance Day parade in North Down if loyalists hijack the event.
The News Letter has learned that a loyalist group has threatened to attend the official Remembrance Day parade in Bangor’s Ward Park with the intention of joining the march.
A source close to the loyalist organisation told the News Letter the group wants to lead Sunday’s parade, which is meant to honour the sacrifice made by the brave men and women of the armed forces.
The loyalist group claims it has the right to be there because of the 1912 UVF’s links to the Battle of the Somme.
The rumours have caused outcry in North Down, where loyalist tensions have been ongoing for several months.
Bill Craig, County Manager of the Royal British Legion, which organises the official march, told the News Letter he had been “very disappointed” to hear about the plans.
He said: “If this group shows up uninvited we will walk away; we will not be taking part in the march.
“They are not a bona fide organisation and so should not be taking part in the official march. This is not what the day is about.”
Speaking to the News Letter, Alliance MLA for North Down Stephen Farry said he was aware of recent speculation surrounding the parade.
He added: “There is a very clear distinction to be made between the commemoration of those who sacrificed their lives honourably in the service of their country and in the pursuit of peace, and those who have been mixed up in paramilitary activity.
“People will be naturally concerned at any attempt to blur this distinction.”
Mr Farry said he did not believe it was in anyone’s interest for the commemoration to be “undermined”.
He added: “It is my understanding that wiser counsel and common sense will prevail, and I would be cautiously optimistic that this will remain the case.”
Speculation over the Remembrance Day parade comes after months of tensions in North Down.
In the run-up to this year’s Twelfth celebrations, loyalists became angry with local councillors over issues including flag flying and bonfire regulation.
In a “peaceful protest”, they erected Union and Ulster flags throughout the borough, in a move many residents labelled intimidatory.
The flags were not removed until Ulster Day on September 28.
During the second stage of the protest, loyalists sent out postcards of Bangor’s marina, with an image of the town’s wind turbine painted red white and blue, to hundreds of homes.
The front of the postcard read “Welcome to Loyalist North Down x.”
Loyalists in Bangor’s Kilcooley estate also came under fire when it emerged that nearly £75,000 of public money was spent to build a Garden of Reflection in the estate.
The garden was meant to honour fallen soldiers of the First and Second World Wars but when it was unveiled featured three plinths, each dedicated to the “glorious memory” of loyalist paramilitary organisations the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando.
As speculation about Sunday’s march continues, a spokeswoman for North Down Borough Council said official invitations had been sent to Army personnel and their support organisations only.
She added that the invitations clearly stated they were not to be passed on to other groups.
A source from Kilcooley estate told the News Letter it was his understanding the loyalist group would not show up at the Ward Park march, and may instead march in Kilcooley.
He added: “This may just be a case of someone trying to stir trouble ahead of the march.”


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