Credit: Jeffrey Peel via Twitter

Thousands protest Covid passport in Belfast City Centre

Thousands filled the streets of Belfast city centre on Saturday to protest the NI Assembly’s enforcement of a Covid passport system in the region. 

The protest began at Cornmarket in the city centre, December 4th  before making its way to Belfast City Hall where crowds heard from a number of speakers. It was organised by the Alliance against Vaccine Passports.

In footage of the event on social media, large crowds can be seen spilling into the area surrounding the City Hall. Tweeting about the demonstration on social media, some participants described the Covid passport system, which forces people to provide proof of vaccination, or else a negative test result or proof of recovery within a certain time frame, as ‘draconian’ and called out NI Health Minister Robin Swann.

“Right now. Protest against @RobinSwannMoH‘s draconian vaccine passport scheme. Imposed by diktat with no supporting evidence, no logic and no medical legitimacy,” one user wrote.

 

In the lead-up to Saturday’s event, a promotional poster described the gathering as an ‘Urgent Call to Action’ and a ‘last chance to fight for our freedoms’.

Referring to the debate which Robin Swann MLA has said will take place at Stormont regarding the imposition of the Covid passport system, it added that: “Our politicians are about to sit down and discuss the possibility of (sic) implementing a two tiered system of segregation upon us, we must show that we do not support this at all costs!”

Organisers also stated: “This is not about vaxed and unvaxed. This is about human rights”.

One sign held aloft at the protest echoed similar messaging, emblazoned with the words, “Get your segregation booster!”

The decision to introduce Covid passports was backed by a majority of Stormont ministers on 13 November, and hospitality venues in Northern Ireland will now be required to check for Covid certification. Venues impacted include nightclubs, hospitality venues where food and drink is available, cinemas, theatres, concert halls and conference centres.

 

“The only way for us is up. It may appear that we are losing every battle but who expected it to be easy given what we are up against?” one speaker told the crowd.

 

Those in attendance carried signs criticising the use of masks, lockdown measures, testing methods and the newly introduced passport system.

“Why is PCR testing still happening when the WHO have said that it is not accurate?” one sign read, whilst others claimed that significant adverse reactions to Covid-19 vaccines had been recorded, though the European Medical Authority says Covid-19 vaccines are safe but with some side-effects including a rare risk of myocarditis. Others carried a banner which read ‘Enough is enough’.

 

Prior to the protest, Belfast Live reported that 500 were expected to attend, but many present disputed the figure. One source at the protest said he estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people were present at the weekend rally.

Credit: Belfast Telegraph via Facebook

 

Many in attendance vowed to keep organising and attending further protests against the north’s Covid passport system, saying the demonstrations would continue until the government took note, with another demonstration reportedly happening again in two weeks’ time.

The atmosphere at the protest was described as “electric” by one user on social media, adding that it was “great to see what normal looks like” in reference to seeing families taking part in the demonstration.

The event was largely described as a “freedom protest,” with women pictured holding signs which read “freedom not fear”. Media reported that Police had to temporarily close one of the busiest roads in the city, as a number of speakers addressed the rally. Beside the rally, shoppers queued to enter the Christmas market, which is currently taking place in the grounds of the City Hall where they were asked to show their certificates.

 

Premises covered by the regulations are obliged to comply but there will be a grace period without any enforcement until 13th December.

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