Doug Beattie seeks meeting with Lurgan protocol protest organisers

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie has requested a meeting with the organisers of an anti-protocol rally in Lurgan after they accused the Upper Bann MLA of an “egregious slur” upon protest organisers and supporters.

By Mark Rainey
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 11:02 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 11:14 am

In a statement posted on Facebook, the Lurgan United Unionists said Mr Beattie was wrong to label those involved in the various recent rallies as “rabble-rousers”.

The loyalist grouping – comprising members from all of the main loyal orders and several bands – has organised a protest against the post-Brexit trading arrangements in Lurgan on April 8.

The social media statement says: “Mr Beattie cites as a reason for his withdrawal from anti-protocol rallies his belief that they are harnessing anger and increasing tensions.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

“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.”

In response, a UUP spokesman told the News Letter that “rising tensions” and “some of the rhetoric” associated with the rallies has led to Mr Beattie’s decision not to attend.

“The Ulster Unionist Party absolutely respects the right of anyone to protest in a lawful and peaceful manner,” the spokesman said.

“The party leader has written to the Lurgan United Unionists to ask them to meet with him to discuss their concerns.

“Amidst rising tensions and in light of some of the rhetoric that has been used, we will no longer be participating in anti protocol rallies.”

The party spokesman added: “Contrary to some of the wild and inaccurate claims made in the statement, we remain resolute in our opposition to a border in the Irish Sea.

“Given what happened to the party leader’s office in Portadown (window damaged), we do not wish to be part of raising tensions in the community. Calm heads are needed now.”

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