25 September 1997 Edition

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Fascists march with Orange Order

By Laura Friel
David Trimble may intend to "confront Sinn Fein, not negotiate" but as for exposing fascism, the unionist leader would do well to start by looking closer to home. Trimble's Stormont remarks followed a recent Orange Order march during which the Loyal Order was accompanied by British fascists.

The parade took place, much to the surprise of local residents, in Portsmouth. The Orange Order hasn't marched in the town since 1931. The Loyal Orange Institution of England organised 400 members, travelling from as far as Liverpool, Corby and Glasgow, to march through the Southsea district of the city.

Orangemen, dressed in their traditional suits and sashes, were stewarded by shaven headed men from the racist Combat 18 group. Local people objecting to the parade were taunted with fascist cries of "Sieg Heil" and "Blacks Out" by the Combat 18 contingent. A white supremacist group, Combat 18 derives its name from the A and H of Adolf Hitler's name, the first and eigth letters of the alphabet. Founded in Britain in the 1970's, Combat 18 is renowned not only for its racist ideology but also its willingness to precipitate violence against black people.

An eyewitness told An Phoblacht that some of the Combat 18 stewards attacked bystanders while some Orangemen tried to break ranks and join in the fracas.

The parade took place despite opposition from local people. A 500-signature petition condemning the decision to allow the Orange parade to take place was sent to the council. Labour Councillor Jason Fazackarley, chairperson of the city's crime prevention and public safety committee, spearheaded a campaign to stop the march by calling for a counter demonstration. "We don't want this sectarian display," the councillor told the local newspaper, The Portsmouth News.

An Phoblacht
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Dublin 1