Allister slams Sinn Fein over Orange boycott site

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TUV leader Jim Allister has questioned Sinn Fein over a Facebook page calling for Orange-owned businesses to be boycotted.

As first revealed by the News Letter website on Monday an online campaign hosted by a page on the social networking site called on people to help build a database of businesses owned by members of the Orange Order so they could be boycotted.

Facebook page

Facebook page

It is understood the page was set up on Sunday and, during a debate on the matter in Stormont on Tuesday, it was removed.

Following condemnation of the page from Tom Elliott, Mr Allister confronted Sinn Fein west Belfast MLA Rosie McCorley on the matter during a Stormont debate on Internet safety, claiming the party had some link to the page.

He said: “Would the Member care to comment on the fact that the exhortation ‘Boycott all Orange-owned businesses’ has now appeared on a Sinn Féin website? Does she take the view that that is an attempt to direct people to discriminate in their business practices and is, in its own way, a propagation of hate? Does she defend that proposition?”

Ms McCorely however said the page was “not a Sinn Fein website”.

Speaking during the debate on Internet safety she added: “Social networking sites have created a space where those who perpetrate and encourage hatred and violent attacks feel that they can do so with impunity.” The Assembly member went on to highlight the use of social networking to organise recent flag protests and make derogatory comments about people from both communities.

The person behind the Orange boycott page wrote: “Comrades, we plan to build up a comprehensive list of businesses, county by county to start with - can you Private Message us, if you know of any Orange-owned businesses in your area... Grma.”

Mr Allister claimed the page bore the Sinn Fein logo and a link to their YouTube channel.

Following the debate he said: “Some might think Sinn Fein/IRA may have had a greater degree of control over this page than they would like us to believe. The public can draw their own conclusions as to how within moments of the issue being raised by me in the Assembly the page disappeared? Sinn Fein/IRA is eager to complain about Loyalists using social media, but here we had a calculated republican vendetta against Protestant businesses which happily the promoters of which on Facebook have had to take down.

“When challenged about the issue IRA Hunger Striker Raymond McCartney suggested there might be perfectly innocent explanations about this and that it was possible for someone to set up a Facebook page without having any connection to the organisation they claim to represent. What makes the Sinn Fein link interesting is that before the debate was completed - and once the Sinn Fein support had been identified - the page had disappeared from Facebook.”