Paramilitary signage at university ‘just latest kick in teeth for Protestant/unionist students’

A spokesman for a unionist society at Queen’s University Belfast says the appearance of a banner honouring a famous IRA figure is “just another kick in the teeth” for pro-Union students.

Friday, 26th June 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 26th June 2020, 8:54 am
Lasair Dhearg members ‘renamed’ QUB after former student and IRA member Mairéad Farrell.

Calvin Reid made the comments after the incident on Monday, when a group called Lasair Dhearg unveiled a sign which it stuck on the gates of the university, proclaiming it to be “Mairead Farrell University”.

It comes against a backdrop of claims spanning many years that Queen’s is a “cold house” for Protestant and unionist students more generally.

Co Armagh man Mr Reid, aged 20 and studying politics, is chair of the roughly 90-strong QUB Orange Society.

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He said his reaction to seeing the banner this week was: “Here we go again. I wasn’t overly shocked to be quite honest.”

He nonetheless feels “anger” and “frustration” over it, and when asked if he anticipates more such actions, he said: “If it’s not addressed, I don’t see why not.

“If things like this aren’t called out then I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this happens again.

“It’s just another kick in the teeth.”

Among the things he said were problems at the university were a lack of commemorative action for murdered academic Edgar Graham, and lack of actions to mark the recent anniversary of VE Day.

In recent years there have been a number of other complaints raised by unionists.

In 2019 a poster at the Sinn Fein freshers’ fair stand caused a stir because it bore the slogan “Brits Out”.

In 2016 the News Letter reported 50% more Catholics than Protestants were entering higher education at NI institutions and the Open University each year.

And in 2014, efforts were made to ban poppies at the Students’ Union and adopt Irish unity as an official policy (both motions ultimately failed).

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