Published Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Loyalists protest against Belfast council’s change in its flags flying policy. (© Pacemaker)
A group called Loyalist Peaceful Protesters is organising a rally in Belfast city centre for November 30, one of the busiest trading days for retailers in the run up to Christmas.
In the application to the Parades Commission the group has said 40 bands are to take part with 5,000 participants and another 5,000 supporters.
During a visit to retailers in Castlecourt shopping centre in Belfast, the Secretary of State called for a rethink on the event.
She said: "We cannot have another winter of protests in Belfast city centre.
"There are not just economic dangers for Belfast retailers, but for the whole of Northern Ireland.
"Belfast is an important driver for economic prosperity and we can't have major disruption every Saturday afternoon again."
The Secretary of State said there were "better ways" to resolve issues around flags and parades and that was through the Richard Haass talks process.
Many people have had the opportunity to have their voice heard through protest but there are better ways and that is through the Richard Haass talks.
She added: "It is important for all political leadership to do everything possible to reach a positive conclusion in those talks.
"He is an excellent chairman and this process is the way to resolve issues around flags and parades.
Last December a series of protests were held in Belfast and across Northern Ireland after the council voted to restrict the number of days it flies the Union Flag at city hall.
They continued on into January and caused widespread disruption.
Some of the protests erupted into violence which resulted in police officers being injured.
The CBI, which represents business, said weeks of demonstrations and rioting cost traders around £15m in lost business.
On Saturday afternoons, there is still a protest held outside city hall by loyalists.
© UTV News