The Protestant unionist loyalist community is “as determined as ever to ensure their voice is heard” on issues including the flag and what they allege is police brutality, according to DUP councillor Ruth Patterson.
The former deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, who had charges against her over offensive Facebook comments withdrawn last month but was given an informed warning, was in attendance at City Hall on Saturday for a flag protest.
She joined a few hundred people for the demonstration organised by a group calling themselves the Loyal Peaceful Protestors.
The ex-nurse has been a constant supporter of those protesting against the December 2012 decision to limit the number of days the Union Flag flies at City Hall.
“The taking down of the Union Flag from City Hall a year ago was a situation not of their (PUL community’s) making, and sadly the Protestant/loyalist people are bearing the brunt of that,” she said.
“We see young men, young women coming away with criminal records and jail terms while murderers walk free. It’s unjust, unfair and totally unacceptable.”
Ms Patterson, whose party this week rejected parts of the Haass proposals on parades, flags and the past, said she and many others had not been kept fully up to speed with the details of the negotiations.
The councillor said she had seen the document and was unhappy with some of the contents.
“I noticed that some of Mr Haass’ comments were quite dismissive of the Protestant loyalist people and he was more concerned about what was in the talks for nationalists and republicans.
“This has to be equal and it has to be fair, and it will not be rushed because we want to make sure that whatever happens is right for the Protestant/loyalist people.”
Ms Patterson also urged politicians to “engage” more with the working class people on the ground.
“It is imperative that they bring those people along with them,” she said.