DUP councillor: ‘I am sick of loyalism being bandied about like a dirty word’
A DUP politician in Portadown has leapt to the defence of loyalists who went out on parade in the town on Saturday, saying that those who took to the streets were “good people”.
Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon councillor Darryn Causby said he is “fed up with loyalism being bandied about like a dirty word” and described those who took to the streets as being from unionism’s “grassroots”.
The march took place at around 3pm in the town centre, and had been organised under the auspices of a group called The Mid Ulster Coalition.
The principal focus of the march was to oppose the NI Protocol and the de facto Irish Sea border.
The gathering involved a number of bandsmen and balaclava-clad marchers.
Sinn Fein said “the town centre was basically closed down” and that “while everyone has a right to peaceful protest, there is an onus on everyone to act within the law”.
Councillor Darryn Causby, the whip for the 11-strong DUP group on the council (the biggest single party bloc), said that the parade had gone right by his front door.
Asked about the balaclavas, he said: “This is merely people hiding their identities.
“I’d be very reluctant to suggest these people were paramilitaries – in fact, I’d suspect they’re not.
“They’re people who are frustrated and they’re angry, and who wanted to display their anger and frustration.
“But I certainly wouldn’t be suggesting that paramilitaries were on the streets of Portadown [on Saturday]. That would be far from the truth.”
He went on to add: “I understood it was grassroots unionism – and not just unionists but loyalists too.
“We need to be clear here. ‘Loyalist’ is not a dirty word.
“These people are frustrated and angry and they need to have their views and concerns heard, and that’s what they’re trying to do.
“I make no apology for saying that. I’m fed up with loyalism being bandied about like a dirty word, and politicians always being accosted for engaging with the loyalist community.
“Those people who were angry [on Saturday] are good people.”
Regarding the fact the parade was un-notified (and therefore unlawful) he said: “I’m supportive of everybody’s right to protest; of course, my preference is that is done within the confines of the law.”
And when it came to a Sinn Fein call for those involved to be investigated, councillor Causby said: “We’ll take no lectures from Sinn Fein in relation to these matters.
“Their track record says enough about them, and it’s very difficult sometimes to hear what they’re saying because the background noise of hypocrisy is so loud.”
PSNI Chief Inspector Barney O’Connor said: “Police were in attendance at a number of un-notified processions in Portadown, which merged at West Street before walking together to join a protest in the centre of the town.
“Around 300 people took part in the processions and an additional 500 attended the protest, which started at 3pm.
“The crowd was made up mostly of families and there were no issues.
“To ensure the road safety of those attending and other members of the public in the area, police diverted traffic around the protest for a short period.
“Trading was facilitated for local shops and businesses.
“Organisers of parades/processions are required to give formal notification of their intentions, and so a number of verbal and visual warnings were given out by police to participants this afternoon.
“An evidence-gathering operation was in place and we will now review all the footage gathered and consider any suspected breaches of the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998.”
The News Letter made contact with the Mid Ulster Coalition online to ask questions including whether there will be a repeat of the parade. No answer was received.
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