Published on Saturday, 15 December 2012 13:57 Written by Deborah McAleese
A former BNP councillor, who has been helping direct the loyalist flag protest, has arrived in Northern Ireland to try and boost the numbers taking part in demonstrations this weekend.
Paul Golding was a close ally with Nick Griffin before he left the BNP last year to set up his own party, Britain First.
He said that he and his party activists will be at the forefront of protests across Belfast, Co Antrim and Co Armagh this weekend.
One of the main protests this weekend is planned for Belfast City Hall at lunchtime today.
Last Saturday the Christmas Market at the City Hall was forced to close for a period when around 2,000 flag protesters turned up.
Loyalists are also using social media sites in an attempt to organise demonstrations in “every street, every estate, road, town and city in this country” to “bring this place to a standstill”.
“The police won’t be out on (sic) force as they would not have the numbers... peacefully protest and then a message will hopefully get through,” the message on a dedicated Facebook page states.
The initial Union flag protests were organised by a group called the United Protestant Voice (UPV), whose chairman, east Belfast man Jonny Harvey, is a former RAF sergeant.
Mr Golding said that since then his group has been “active in organising” recent protests, including one last Saturday at Belfast City Hall which saw the Christmas Market having to be closed for a period of time.
One of his party’s Belfast representatives — former BNP fundraiser Jim Dowson from Glasgow — was one of the main speakers during the protest at the City Hall, Mr Golding added.
Mr Golding said that even though he does not live or work in Northern Ireland, he believes he has every right to get involved in the Union flag protests, which have led to traffic disruption, outbreaks of violence, death threats against politicians and heavy financial loss for traders.
“This is still part of the UK and people hostile to the UK have engineered the removal of our national flag from one of our main landmarks. It is an outrage. As a unionist activist organisation we feel very angry about the whole saga,” he said.
When asked for his opinion about Trade Minister Arlene Foster’s comments on Thursday that protests need to be taken off the streets as traders have told her businesses are being hit badly, he said: “That’s news to me.”
“As an Englishman I am very conscious of the hundreds of English soldiers that sacrificed their lives to ensure Ulster remains British and that’s why I am here,” Mr Golding added.
Members of the Scottish Unionist Party are also planning to travel to the province to support protesters this weekend.
Credit: Belfast Telegraph