“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, who have united in a common cause – the defence of our place within the United Kingdom.
In furtherance of this cause we have from the outset recognised that unionism is far stronger when united than when divided. It was in this context that we sought to bring together all sections of political unionism at a protest rally to be held in Lurgan on Friday 8 April. The purpose of the rally was 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 the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, 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. Sadly, rather than standing with his own community in defence of the Union, it appears that Mr Beattie prefers to unite with the rigorous protocol implementers in the Alliance Party, the SDLP and IRA/SF. Somewhat ironically Mr Beattie cites as a reason for his withdrawal from anti protocol rallies his belief that they are harnessing anger and increasing tensions, yet in so doing he chooses to ally himself with parties such as Alliance and the SDLP who were only too happy to talk up the threat of republican violence in order to establish the Irish Sea border in the first place.
For Mr Beattie 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. As already noted 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 thirty years to defend this province from republican terrorism. We therefore deeply resent the slur Mr Beattie has cast upon our organisation. 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 is critical of protest rallies as a vehicle to express unionist opposition to the protocol yet he 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, to accept less than this is to sign our death warrant as a part of the United Kingdom. Mr Beattie’s strategy does not command the support of Lurgan United Unionists. The Unionist electorate of Upper Bann will have the opportunity to pass their own judgment on the 5th May.
Opposition to the protocol has from the beginning been a grassroots loyalist and unionist movement, whether unionist political representatives stand with us or not we are determined to resist the sell out of our birth right. As such we call on all of our fellow loyalists across Ulster to join with us on 8 April 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.”
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Kilkeel Northern Ireland.
Thursday 2nd June 2022.
Progressive Unionist Party South Belfast Spokesperson Ian Shanks commenting following this evening’s reprehensible scenes in which children were to the fore front of unwarranted and unjustifiable heavy handed policing.
Can I confirm that our parade does go ahead tonight but with much reduced numbers than we usually expect.