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.
Right now. Protest against @RobinSwannMoH's draconian vaccine passport scheme. Imposed by diktat with no supporting evidence, no logic and no medical legitimacy.
— Keith (@LonsdalesofH) December 4, 2021
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!”
— Jeffrey Peel (@JeffreyPeel) December 4, 2021
— Jennijeremies (@Jennijeremies) December 4, 2021
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.
Vaccine passport protest Belfast right now pic.twitter.com/8BqJkmvTNJ
— Arbz (@GIcenburg) December 4, 2021
The people are coming out in force! Good to see!
— Take it easy (@Hammer19803) December 4, 2021
Belfast protest right now,great crowd ❤️ pic.twitter.com/pXNgH2bUy1
— Shane 🇮🇪 (@Shaneflynn20) December 4, 2021
“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.
— Anonymous UK Citizen (@AnonCitizenUK) December 4, 2021
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’.
— Suzy (@IrishSuzy) December 4, 2021
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.
— Horatio Nelson (@HoratioNelson0) December 4, 2021
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.
These protests will only stop when governments realize that the people are there to serve them, NOT that government’s purpose is to dictate unreasonable inhuman restrictions. #NoVaccinePassportsAnywhere https://t.co/V5nY7vlgcl
— Melissa🌸 (@BlissNjoy) December 4, 2021
Peaceful, non-violent, non-intimidatory protest is the only kind of protest I will ever support.
There are many like me.
I was at the anti-coercion protest today. The atmosphere was great
The crowd today was full of wee women like myself as well all ages#ConsentNotCoercion
— Mandy Mullin (@mandy_mullin1) December 4, 2021
Nothing but respect and admiration for everyone that took part this weekend at the protests in Belfast and Dublin, great turn out. If you’re one of the people that attempt to criticise, and abuse the protestors, remember there protesting for your liberties and your rights aswell.
— Micheál Mac (@MichaelMac1798) December 4, 2021
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.
At protest in Belfast today,, weather was a bit cold but atmosphere was electric! So many grandmothers with there grandchildren having a good time great to see what normal looks like!
— SHTBlackwood (@ShtBlackwood) December 4, 2021
— Lauren Harte (@LJHarteNI) December 4, 2021
— Arbz (@GIcenburg) December 4, 2021
Belfast today folks thank you all for an amazing turn out. We will be on the right side of history. We go again in two weeks as long as it takes great speakers great sound all in all a great day for spreading the truth. pic.twitter.com/2wGhWhoQeP
— Awake in Belfast (@AwakeinBelfast) December 4, 2021
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.
— H24 News Ireland (@h24news_ie) December 4, 2021
Premises covered by the regulations are obliged to comply but there will be a grace period without any enforcement until 13th December.