30 June 2005 Edition

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Protest over Army band in Belfast

Relatives of victims of state violence will protest at the inclusion of a Royal Marines band at an event organised by Belfast City Council on Thursday 30 June at Botanic Gardens in Belfast.

The picket is being organised by the anti collusion group An Fhírinne and is supported by Sinn Féin.

The event was initially scheduled to provide a live open air screening of La Boheme from the Royal Opera House in London, but following intervention by council officers a Royal Marine Band will take part to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the ending of World War II.

The Three Irish Tenors will also participate in the event.

Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Maskey said the inclusion of the Marines band by Belfast City Council will have the effect of isolating one section of the community from attending. To add insult to injury, the council is increasing the budget for the event to facilitate the Royal Marines.

"If you look at the track record of the Royal Marines in the Six Counties, who have killed people in our society with impunity, including children, you have to seriously question this decision by Belfast City Council," said Maskey.

Some unionists have tried to suggest that the presence of the Irish Tenors counterbalances the Royal Marine Band.

"As far as I'm aware the tenors don't come from a military background," said Maskey.

Thursday night's An Fhírinne picket will convene at 5pm outside Queens University in South Belfast.

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