A claimed lack of ‘Northern Ireland’ branded products for sale at Belfast International Airport could lead to a series of protests, Willie Frazer has said.
The loyalist activist and victims’ campaigner said items on sale in the airport’s souvenir shop were almost exclusively ‘Irish’ – and that Northern Ireland’s status as a region within the United Kingdom was being “shunned”.
However, a spokesman for the airport said the claims “amounted to an outrageous and outlandish slur”.
Mr Frazer said: “There appears to be a sectarian motive coupled with hatred of Northern Ireland and its position within the UK.
“We do not ask for a removal of Irish products but simply that products embellished with representation of Northern Ireland and its part within the United Kingdom are made available.”
He said his complaint was highlighting an “equality issue,” and added: “Many from Northern Ireland feel that the current range of products is attempting to remove our identity, glossing it over with an all things Irish approach which is not acceptable. We have a proud culture and identity which should be promoted not shunned as Belfast International are currently doing.”
Mr Frazer went on to say: “Belfast International will be more than happy to receive the custom of Northern Ireland fans who will make their way in huge numbers to the Euro 2016 finals in France next summer, but yet seem happy to exclude Northern Ireland from its range of products.
“This cannot be accepted and we will be fighting to ensure a fair range of products are brought in which represent all communities and cultures not just a sea of green Irish products.”
As well as hitting back at Mr Frazer over what they branded “attention-seeking” assertions, the airport has produced photographs of its shop displays – including ceramics depicting the Harland & Wolff cranes and Titanic images, local produce under the signage ‘Ulster Artisans,’ and books containing Ulster baking recipes.
The airport spokesman said the comments made by Mr Frazer, both in the press and repeated on social media websites, amounted to “an outrageous and outlandish slur”.
“This airport has a central role in ‘NI Plc’ and that means providing jobs, investment and opportunities for people who work at the airport and in the supply chain,” the spokesman said.
“Our ongoing Farmers’ Market, run in conjunction with the Ulster Drink & Food Producers Group, features almost 20 local food, drink and craft producers.”
He added: “This initiative, on its own, gives the lie to what are wild, inaccurate and attention-seeking assertions.”