Let’s get this very straight. There is no absolute and unabridged right to protest. People like Simon Hamilton who say there is an "absolute right", are very wrong. Yes the land is planted thick with laws which protect our liberty. However, protections also exist that limit liberty, in the event and only in the event, that a person's use of freedom infringes the liberty of other persons.
As Visit Belfast found out from some very unfortunate tourists, it's been the consummate jungle and booze filled circus. (And let's come back to that matter in a later day, that the 12th has degenerated into a festival of piss (preface here).)
Article 11 – Freedom of assembly and association
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.By virtue of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights you possess the liberty to protest by holding meetings and demonstrations with other people.
– National security
– Public safety
– The prevention of disorder or crime
– The protection of health or morals
– The protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
In the event of breaching the terms of any parade set by the Parades Commission, this is a crime under the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.
In the event that a person incites another person to disobey a Parades Commission ruling, that person can be charged with inciting a breach of a ruling as a specific offence under the Public Order Act.
@LADFLEG was looking forward to Xmas shopping this weekend in Belfast but think I'll go elsewhere now #riots #dissidents #flegtards
— Paddy Breen (@PaddyBreen1) November 26, 2013
By that fact, the simple case should be made that this coming march should be heavily restricted if not banned.
By the Loyalist precedent for violence, I suggest that there is an imminent likelihood that Saturday's peace and prosperity will be breached. On the balance of liberties, I submit that Loyalist protesters will hold sway over the city and hold much of civic society hostage by their delinquency.
They can have their protest this week. But I suggest something changes. Friends, I beseech you. They will repeat their foul experiment upon us. As long as we let them. Stop appeasing this horrendous nonsense. It's time to stand up and oppose these squalid little bigots who masquerade themselves as civil rights protesters and call them out for what they are: uncivil shites. Use the law as it exists. Lodge complaints. Campaign against this shower of loyalist incontinence.