West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Major Protest called off after Parades Commission Meeting

Published: 25 February, 2013

A large scale protest scheduled for Omagh Town centre on Friday evening has been called off following a series of meetings between Sinn Féin, the PSNI and the Parades Commission.

A delegation headed by Pat Doherty MP met the PSNI's 'F District' senior commanders last Friday to voice concern about the flag protests which have disrupted the town since before Christmas. They also raised serious concern about the major mobilisation which was planned for the town this Friday evening.

On Tuesday morning, the delegation took their message to the Parades Commission in Belfast.

During the meeting, they highlighted the disruption the parade would have on late evening shopping and on the night time economy, as the town centre would effectively be a 'no-go' zone for 3 hours between 7pm and 10pm. Speaking afterwards, Pat Doherty said:

"We stressed to the commission and the PSNI that local people are frustrated and weary at the weekly protests that have been taking place in the town since before Christmas.

"The mobilisation scheduled for this Friday evening was clearly an attempt to intensify these protests. The organisers anticipated 300 participants, including 20 bands and 350 supporters descending upon the town centre at a time which clashed with late evening shopping and the night time economy.

Declan Mc Aleer MLA added:

"We have received countless representations from concerned citizens about the detrimental impact these protests are having on the town. Most people prefer to avoid the town if they know that a protest is planned so this can only have a negative impact on trade and the wider local economy.

Reacting to the news that the parade will not now take place, Councillor Marty Mc Colgan, who was also part of the delegation said:

"I'm glad that common sense has prevailed in this case. The weekly occurrence of flag protests has instilled a sense of fear among the wider community. There have been well documented cases of people being threatened and abused after getting caught up in these protests. I just hope that the protests will be called off on a more permanent basis so that people can get on with living their lives in peace'.