Sinn Fein Supporters Disrupt ‘Stop All Killings’ Rally
Protestants and Catholics united across Northern Ireland on Friday to denounce the militants who have slain 10 people in the past month in hopes of wrecking peace talks.
But at the biggest peace rally, outside Belfast City Hall, the crowd displayed the fundamental divisions that keep fueling both the violence and a deadlock in negotiations over Northern Ireland’s future.
About 100 supporters of the IRA-allied Sinn Fein party moved into the middle of the 1,000-strong crowd, carrying placards that blamed the recent deaths of eight Catholic civilians on police and pro-British Protestant politicians. Their placards made no mention of an IRA splinter gang, the Irish National Liberation Army, that contributed to the bloodshed by killing two prominent Protestant militants.
Northern Ireland’s federation of labor unions had organized the rallies in Belfast and six other towns on the theme of “stop all killings.” Several Protestant politicians left once they saw the placards, complaining that Sinn Fein was insulting them.
Much of the crowd cheered when labor union chief Frank Bunting asked the Sinn Fein contingent to lower its banners “and respect the grief of all those who have died.”
But the Sinn Fein supporters booed and kept their banners up throughout the half-hour rally.