Syrian refugee supporters outnumber protesters in Belfast

A group called the Protestant coalition hold an anti-refugee protest in Belfast city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday December 5, 2015
A group called the Protestant coalition hold an anti-refugee protest in Belfast city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday December 5, 2015
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Anti-Syrian refugee protesters who staged a demonstration in Belfast were significantly outnumbered by people who turned up to support those fleeing the war-torn country.

Around 30 people took part in the “Say no to refugees” picket outside City Hall on Saturday morning.

An adjacent counter-demonstration, whose main message was one of welcome for Syrians arriving in Northern Ireland later this month, was attended by around 200 people.

There was a major security presence in front of City Hall as police stood between the opposing groups, but there was no trouble.

A group calling itself the Protestant Coalition organised the anti-refugee demo.

The plan had been heavily criticised by Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as well as church leaders and trade unions.

A group named Belfast Anti-Fascists was involved in the counter-demonstration called “Refugees welcome, bigots not”.

Around 50 Syrians will arrive in Northern Ireland on December 15 as part of the UK-wide resettlement programme.