On a hot, humid July morning, a group of concerned activists stood outside the British Consulate on College Street in Toronto to denounce the recent attacks on Irish Republican protesters during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland last month.
On Tuesday, June 26, theGuardian reported that “a potentially dangerous standoff between dissident republicans and loyalists broke out on Tuesday night on Belfast's Black Mountain over a protest against the Queen's visit to Northern Ireland.”
The Queen began a two-day tour of Northern Ireland on June 26.
The newspaper wrote that “at least one republican was taken to hospital after being beaten during the afternoon with hatchets and hammers by a gang of loyalists who were trying to remove sheets spelling out the slogan "Eriu is Our Queen" – a reference to a Irish Celtic warrior queen – and a massive Irish tricolour that could be seen from the air.”
Martin McGuinness, a former IRA leader and current Sinn Fein politician, shook hands with the Queen the next day at an event he had been invited to attend, a move that didn't still well with some Irish Republicans who want an end to British rule in Northern Ireland.
“The loyalist attack prompted hundreds of republicans from various factions opposed to Sinn Féin to gather on Tuesday evening on the mountainside overlooking the city,” said theGuardian.
In Toronto, group spokesperson Julian Ichim said, “We’re here to take a stand and let Britain know that the world is watching. And we’re not going to sit by while peaceful protesters trying to determine their destiny are attacked.”
An hour earlier, Ichim and members of the Anti-Colonialist Working Group occupied the British consulate office where they unfurled their banner that read “British Death Squads Out of Northern Ireland” before they eventually met with the Acting Consul General.
The group handed him a copy of their statement condemning the Black Mountain attack and pledging their unconditional support to the victims and “their fight for national sovereignty in the face of British aggression.”
“He agreed to pass on our message and he understands our concerns and frustrations,” said Ichim.
“They talk about a new era of Anglo-Irish relations. Well, this is no different than the old era where Loyalist mob violence and attacks continue and political prisoners like Marian Price are persecuted.”
Back on College Street, the group continued to hand out leaflets to passersby about the plight of Marian Price , an Irish Republican political prisoner who’s been incarcerated for over a year.
Moments later, Ichim grabbed a bullhorn and read the “Statement of the Anti Colonialist Working Group Condemning Black Mountain Attack and English Provocation” before the group wrapped up its demonstration.
“The recent attack in Belfast by loyalist mobs armed with hatchets and knives against Irish Republicans is reminiscent of the lynching’s in the southern united states by the KKK in the twentieth century,” he said.
“Their only ‘crime’ being their political beliefs, a display of their flag on Black Mountain in the face of a foreign occupying monarch.”