IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Group with far-right link at annual parade in Clerkenwell

Calls for an investigation after leaflets were handed out at ‘non-political’ Little Italy event

10 August, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Annual Little Italy procession, ‘a religious celebration and there is no particip­ation of any political group of any persuasion,’ said an organiser

MEMBERS of the Italian community have express­ed concern about a group linked to a far-right political party handing out leaflets at the annual Little Italy religious procession in Clerkenwell.

Vortex Londinium group, associated with the Italian fringe party CasaPound, which has anti-immigration views, shared pictures on Facebook of themselves at the event in July.

The area in south Islington became the home to Italian migrants in the late 19th century. The Catholic procession, in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is held every year to unite the community.

A letter signed by 12 members of London’s Italian community, in­cluding a coordinator at Islington’s Italian Advice Centre, was sent to the Tribune this week, claiming the Vortex group “were free to distribute their propaganda leaflets”.

They added: “They made their way through the crowds, acting like a small phalanx, all wearing T-shirts with a recognisable logo, apparently unhindered.”

They called for the incident to be investigated by organisers.

The leaflets, also posted online, describe Vortex as a “patriotic association” composed mainly of Italian nationals or people of Italian descent or links in the United Kingdom. They say ­Casa­Pound is “the only movement that every day and since many years is acting concretely to restore the dignity that our homeland deserves and to give real help to the many compatriots in need”.

Davide Olla, from Vortex, told the Tribune they did not enter St Peter’s Italia Church, where the parade started, and said: “We have been warmly welcomed by practically all the people at the festival.”

Mr Olla added: “Hearing talk about ‘black-clad phalanx’ is quite ridiculous and a typical, old attempt to discredit political opponents when you do not have any other valid arguments.”

Modesto Tondelli, who helps organise the popular procession, said he had not heard of the matter before the residents’ letter.

He said: “The procession is a religious celebration and there is no participation of any political group of any persuasion.

“In any event we cannot be responsible for the behaviour of any members of the public. We are not in a position to stop anyone from distributing leaflets.”

He thanked residents for bringing the matter to his attention and gave assurances that the policy of no political participation in the procession will continue.

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