Belfast: churches join protest at sectarian violence

 Representatives of Northern Ireland's four main churches joined a 70,000-strong demonstration against sectarian violence in Belfast on Friday. The protest, outside Belfast City Hall, was called after the murder of Catholic teenager, Gerald Lawlor, almost two weeks ago. It was given added impetus with the killing of 51 year-old David Caldwell at a Territorial Army base in Londonderry last Thursday. Town hall chiefs gave permission for the gathering after talks with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. A one-minute silence marked the start of the demonstration at 1pm. There were speeches from representatives from political parties and community groups. Reverend Alan Harper, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor, representing the leaders of the four main churches in the province said they stood together to challenge hatred, bigotry and sectarianism. "We stand for respect for diversity, respect for freedom of conscience, the right to live free of fear and threat," he said.

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