Republican march is called off

The march was to have passed through Bellshill town centre.
The march was to have passed through Bellshill town centre.

The Irish republican march planned for Bellshill has been called off by the organiser.

The parade against “anti-Irish racism” was given the go-ahead by North Lanarkshire Council on Tuesday despite fears of public disorder.

It was due to take place at lunchtime on Saturday, August 27, but today organiser William Riddell told the Times & Speaker he has had a change of heart.

A loyalist organisation, Regimental Blues, had urged supporters to attend a counter demonstration and claimed they could outnumber the republican marchers by ten to one.

Mr Riddell refused to elaborate on his decision to call off the march, apart from saying he did not want “disruption” caused to people in his home town.

He added: “People can draw their own conclusions.”

Mr Riddell applied for permission to stage the march on behalf of Irish Republican Bands Scotland.

The council’s public processions sub-committee gave approval after hearing the police had no objection. The force warned the parade would present a “high risk” of public disorder but insisted they could manage it.

Councillors were told at least 50 police officers would be needed to “ensure the safety” of the 30 marchers and an accompanying band.

However, Regimental Blues warned another 100 would be required if a counter demonstration involving up to 300 marchers was taking place.

Mr Riddell had told councillors at this week’s meeting: “There won’t be any problems in Bellshill that day.”

A council spokesman said it had been informed by Mr Riddell of his decision to cancel the march.