Victims’ passionate reception for Arlene

DUP leader Arlene Foster pictured with victims campaigner William Frazer , Michelle Williamson (whose parents were killed in the 1993 Shankill Road bomb) and Pastor Barry Halliday at the victims rally in Carleton Street Orange Hall, Portadown on 8 February 2017. Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton
DUP leader Arlene Foster pictured with victims campaigner William Frazer , Michelle Williamson (whose parents were killed in the 1993 Shankill Road bomb) and Pastor Barry Halliday at the victims rally in Carleton Street Orange Hall, Portadown on 8 February 2017. Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

DUP leader Arlene Foster was given a passionate welcome when terror victims from all over Northern Ireland converged on a special audience with her in Portadown.

Arranged by victims campaigner Willie Frazer, the event took place in Carleton Street Orange Hall in on Wednesday night, with a packed hall of some 200 people.

Ms Foster entered to loud applause, after which Mr Frazer said that he had arranged the meeting at the request of victims, and that she had immediately agreed to attend.

Another unionist figure when invited said they would drop in “if they were in the area”, he added.

Introducing Ms Foster, he said: “Other people pretend to know what we are talking about but Arlene knows what we are talking about.”

She survived an IRA bomb attack on her school bus as a teen and her father also survived being shot by the IRA.

Mr Frazer asked the audience to be “constructive” in their questions.

In her address, she said: “This election is about republicans trying to rewrite the past. Recently we have seen the attempts to put our soldiers and our police officers in the dock while those who maimed and murdered over the past fifty years walk free.

“We stand by the Stormont House Agreement and want to see all terrorist murders properly investigated. The new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) will have full police powers to investigate these murders.”

Her party stood by three principles going into the assembly election, she said; there can be no re-writing of the past, there must be no question of any amnesty for terrorists and victims must have a real chance of securing justice for what was done to them and their loved ones.

As requested, the audience remained respectful to Ms Foster through the evening, with rounds of applause to comments from both the audience and her responses.

Victims travelled from as far away as Fermanagh, Kilkeel and Castlederg to take part and she addressed many of them by name.

Mr Frazer closed by saying he has “had my problems with Arlene in the past, but what is more important is our country and as far as I am concerned, Arlene is as good as it gets”.

After the meeting, members of the audience swarmed around Ms Foster to greet her and pose for selfie photographs with the DUP leader.

See William Matchett page 45:

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