I will not be intimidated, vows UUP leader Doug Beattie, after ‘cowardly attack’

UUP leader Doug Beattie has issued a strong statement warning those who attacked his office, a day after he said his party would no longer be involved in anti-protocol rallies, that he ‘will not be intimidated’

By Gemma Murray
Monday, 28th March 2022, 1:32 pm

Mr Beattie said the rallies, voicing opposition to post-Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland, were “raising tensions”.

But windows were smashed at the constituency office in Portadown.

Following the overnight attack Doug Beattie MC, said: “The attack on my office overnight is one of the inevitable consequences I have been warning about.

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“My primary concern is for the welfare of my staff and this was a cowardly attack on their workplace which provides a service to the people of Upper Bann.

“What it will not do is deter me from carrying out my democratic work or speaking out when I have genuine concerns about the direction in which people are being led. Attacking offices and attempting to intimidate politicians demonstrates the weakness of your argument if that is what you have to resort to.

“We want to see the Protocol replaced and we have been expressing our consistent opposition to it since it was first mooted in October 2019, but where I differ with others is the way in which we approach that. I am a confident, positive unionist representing a party which will engage to bring about change. It is a political problem which will only be solved by finding a political solution.

“We respect the right of anyone to legally and peacefully protest. However tensions are rising, with some spokespeople at anti-Protocol rallies openly calling for people to get angry and to raise the temperature. Blood and thunder rhetoric from a lectern will not help nor solve the Protocol problem. This is exactly what we need to avoid. We need to learn the lessons of the past.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th March 2022 Photo by Press Eye Window has smashed at the office of Ulster Unionist party leader Doug Beattie MC MLA - Bridge St, Portadown, Craigavon.

“If anyone thinks that they can intimidate me or the Ulster Unionist Party, they clearly don`t know me or understand the party I represent.”

The attack has been condemned by DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson who said those behind the incident were “completely wrong” and that their actions “contribute nothing to their opposition to the protocol”.

On Sunday Mr Beattie said: “It is now clear that anti-protocol rallies are being used to raise the temperature in Northern Ireland and adding to tensions that now see a resurgence in UVF activity.

“The Ulster Unionist Party will not be part of raising tensions or the temperature by bringing people onto the streets with an intent to harness anger.”

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th March 2022 Photo by Press Eye Window has smashed at the office of Ulster Unionist party leader Doug Beattie MC MLA - Bridge St, Portadown, Craigavon.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has commended the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party for his principled position on a series of protests against the Northern Ireland protocol which have raised tensions over the last number of weeks.

The Foyle MP also condemned an attack on Doug Beattie’s constituency office this morning.

Colum Eastwood MP said:

“I want to commend Doug Beattie for the principled position he has taken on a series of protests against the Northern Ireland Protocol which have clearly raised tension over the last number of weeks.

“I know that it is not easy to tell hard truths to your supporters. It would have been easier for Doug to sit silently at these rallies and hope to benefit from people who are being whipped up into a frenzy. He deserves credit for taking this stand. We hold starkly different views on this issue but we are both motivated, I believe, by a shared desire to address the challenges our communities face. The attack on Doug’s office this morning was committed by cowards who need to understand that they will never win.

“The hard truth that all political leaders need to accept is that for as long as Brexit remains a reality, there will be a protocol to accommodate our unique circumstances.

“What we should be focussed on is the emergency facing families across our communities who are being hit again and again by petrol, diesel, gas and oil prices surging. We have it in our power to address that situation. Politicians who choose political games over the protocol, or their own position in office, should be ashamed of themselves when so many people are facing destitution. The SDLP will always put those people first.”

Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd also condemned the attack on UUP leader Doug Beattie’s constituency office.

John O’Dowd said: “The attack on Doug Beattie’s office is wrong and I condemn it.

“Those intent on whipping up tensions and dragging society back will not succeed, we will continue to move forward.

“This is a time for political leadership and those with influence should work to reduce tensions and ensure these types of attack do not continue.”

TUV Upper Bann Assembly candidate Darrin Foster said: “I condemn the attack on Doug Bettie’s constituency office.

“Everyone will have a chance to express their view on all those standing for election in just a few short weeks. That is a great privilege, bought at a high price.”

When asked for a comment the PSNI said they are now appealing for information following a report of criminal damage at premises in Portadown.

Sergeant Berry said: “It was reported that sometime between 8.30pm yesterday (Sunday 27th March) and 8.30am today, Monday, a concrete block was thrown at the main window of a property at Bridge Street in the town.

“Enquiries are at an early stage, and I appealing to anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity, or have any information which could assist, to contact police on 101, and quote reference number 675 of 28/03/22.”

Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

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