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Rocky loyalist road to Dublin

By Paul Ainsworth

GARDAI are preparing for a loyalist rally in the center of Dublin linked to the ongoing row over the removal of the union flag from Belfast City Hall.

Since councilors voted to only fly the British flag on 17 "designated days" on the building, loyalists have organized hundreds of protests, many of which have descended into rioting and violence.

Now one group is aiming to take its protest south of the border, with the bizarre demand that the Irish government remove the tricolor flag from

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Leinster House. The man behind the rally - set for Saturday the 12th - is South Armagh loyalist Willie Frazer. Frazer previously led a horde of loyalists to Dublin in 2006 for the "Love Ulster" rally.

In an ironic twist, the tricolor will not be flown on the date of this weekend's foray. It is only flown on designated days over government buildings.

"This is not about swamping Dublin or bringing 500 or 600 people down. It's about making our point in a peaceful manner. We will ask sarcastically that the Irish tricolor is lowered at the demonstration to give Irish people a sense of how we feel," said Frazer.

Frazer, who remains an outspoken critic of power sharing in the North, is one of several self-appointed individuals behind a new "People's Forum" aimed at offering leadership for those involved in union flag protests.

Meanwhile, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore condemned those behind the rioting in Belfast, which has even seen shots fired at police.

"These attacks over the past three days are not the mark of legitimate protest but are the actions of a small group who want to bring Northern Ireland back to a darker

past," Gilmore said.