Support Grows For Campaign By Stephen Dempster Political Correspondent Tuesday 30th August 2005
More than 200,000 newspapers published as part of a new campaign to give Protestants and unionists a voice hit the streets of Northern Ireland yesterday. Produced by the newly established Love Ulster Campaign group, the papers arrived at the port of Larne in the morning and were picked up in cars and vans for distribution throughout the Province.
A Press conference fronted by victims of IRA violence, representatives of the Shankill Mirror, which published the free sheet, and Orange Order Grand Master Bobby Saulters, also officially kick-started the initiative. With a website opening at www. loveulster. com, the plan is to now start a debate within the broad unionist/ loyalist community on a future united approach to the problem of the Government's persistent concessions to republicans and disregard for unionism's plight. Around 50 cars arrived in Larne to pick up the papers which are being delivered to homes, Orange halls, community centres and shops. The 16-page newspaper declares in its front page headline: Ulster At Crisis Point, in reference to the groundswell of unionist opinion that feels the peace process is now geared solely to appeasing republicanism and its united Ireland cause. The free sheet carries articles on the plight of IRA victims and their experiences - alleging they have been forgotten by the world, in the rush to meet republican needs. It includes a 2005 Ulster Covenant to sign, stating that the signatory is convinced of a conspiracy to bring about a united Ireland and pledging to resist this by all lawful means possible. Campaign spokesman William Wilkinson, of the South Armagh-based group for Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR), said the group would struggle against the Government's "total disregard for democracy".
He said: "The pen is mightier than the sword and we hope this will provide an alternative to a lot of frustration and deep hurt being felt. "I think people need an outlet for these feelings. We will provide this on the website and through the newspaper. And the political parties, the Government and the media will have to listen.
"We are saying enough is enough, the voice of the victims of 30 years of violence, the voice of the lawful people, must be heard and they are deeply unhappy." Mr Wilkinson went on to explain the campaign would also gather ideas, with a view to mounting major events and offering solutions to the problems the unionist community is encountering. The demand, he added, was "equal citizenship in this part of the United Kingdom", which unionists believe they no longer have. Shankill Mirror board member John McVicar said this was just the beginning. He explained it was a response to a public need and spoke of deep anxiety in the community, especially in the wake of the Government response to the July 28 IRA statement.
Unionists now felt like second class citizens and believed their culture was being suppressed, he said. "Our appeal is for others to add their voice to ours," he said.
(C) NEWSLETTER 30/08/05
HELP US TELL THE TRUTH