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Loyalist march 'to intimidate Chinese'

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

Loyalists were last night (Friday) accused of "racist intimidation" after plans for a major rally protesting against Alliance assembly member Anna Lo emerged.

More than 3,000 loyalists and 40 bands have applied to hold the demonstration in Belfast city centre next month.

The protest is linked to a letter Mrs Lo sent to Pride of the Raven flute band leader George Spence earlier this month on behalf of a female constituent who said a parade had prevented her from getting to her work as a nurse.

The South Belfast MLA obtained Mr Spence's home address from police and wrote, putting both his and the band's name on the envelope, to ask him to ensure future parades were better publicised to avoid causing traffic disruption.

But Mr Spence, a former British soldier, claimed the letter had endangered his life by identifying him as a loyalist band leader.

Mrs Lo expressed concern after it emerged that the parade would go through Donegall Pass, home to a large proportion of the city's Chinese population.

"I feel this parade has deliberate racist overtones and has been designed to intimidate the Chinese community who live and work on Donegall Pass," she said.

"This parade is having to make a major detour just to go through Donegall Pass.

"People feel it's for no other reason than to show the Chinese commun-ity who's boss."

Mrs Lo, pictured, said that after learning of Mr Spence's fears she immediately wrote another letter apologising to him.

"When I heard that Mr Spence was concerned about his personal security I sent him a second letter to apologise for any offence which might have been caused," she said.

"At no time did I ever intend to alienate or offend anyone.

"But I feel now that this issue has taken on more sinister racial overtones."

A spokesman for the rally's organisers denied that the parade would intimidate either Mrs Lo or the Chinese community.

"The fact that Anna Lo is Chinese is irrelevant to the issue at hand," he said.

"Anna Lo's introduction of the racist card into this issue is regrettable.

"The fact that she is Chinese does not, in the eyes of the band, impart any blame or responsibility for her foolishness on to the wider Chinese community.

"Indeed, many of the bandsmen may on their way home enjoy a Chinese meal."

If approved, the parade will also pass two Catholic churches – St Malachy's in the Markets area and St Matthew's in east Belfast.

October 29, 2007
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This article appeared first in the October 27, 2007 edition of the Irish News.


This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News



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