Lurgan United Unionists is a grassroots movement comprising local loyalists from across the Orange Institution, the Royal Black Institution, the Apprentice Boys of Derry, and several marching bands, united in a common cause: the defence of our place within the United Kingdom.
In furtherance of this, from the outset we’ve recognised that unionism is far stronger united than divided. It was in this context that we seek to bring together all sections of political unionism at a protest rally to be held in Lurgan on Friday, April 8.
The purpose is to demonstrate a united unionist front, with all sections of political unionism standing shoulder-to-shoulder with grassroots loyalists and unionists in opposition to the protocol.
Unfortunately one of those who had agreed to attend, Doug Beattie, has chosen to withdraw, and thereby isolate himself from his own constituents and the wider Unionist family who are uniting around the common cause of destroying the protocol and saving the Union.
Mr Beattie cites as a reason for his withdrawal from anti-protocol rallies his belief that they are harnessing anger and increasing tensions.
To suggest that the protest rallies are anything other than a peaceful and dignified expression of loyalist opposition to the protocol is an egregious slur upon those who have organised, attended, and addressed such events.
Our organisation comprises members of the loyal orders and local bands, many of whom it must be noted served with distinction in the security forces over 30 years to defend this province from republican terrorism.
We are not rabble rousers out to increase tension. Rather we are law abiding, peaceful and loyal citizens.
We would call upon Mr Beattie to publicly apologise for his comments which, whether he intended it or not, have besmirched the name and reputation of our organisation, the loyal orders, and thousands upon thousands of loyal Ulstermen who have taken to the streets to exercise their democratic and legitimate right to peacefully protest against the imposition of this protocol for which they did not vote and to which they do not consent.
Mr Beattie has failed to explain how his strategy of negotiating with the EU while at the same time implementing the protocol via the Assembly will ever result in the destruction of the protocol.
Negotiation by its very nature results in agreement and compromise. Unionism cannot compromise on this issue. Unionism cannot accept anything less than the complete destruction of the protocol.
We call on all of our fellow loyalists across Ulster to join with us on April 8 in sending a clear message to all of our opponents that we will never accept a border in the Irish Sea and that we will never be part of a process designed to ease Ulster into a united Ireland. No surrender.
Roy Ferguson, President, Apprentice Boys of Derry (and TUV member)
David Martin, District Master, Lurgan District No 6
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