DUP advisor: “I’m sick of loyalty being brandished like a dirty word”
Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon adviser Darryn Causby said he was “fed up with loyalty being brandished like a dirty word” and described those who took to the streets as “grassroots” of the unionism.
The march took place around 3 p.m. in the city center and was organized under the auspices of a group called The Mid Ulster Coalition.
The main objective of the march was to oppose the NI protocol and the de facto Irish Sea border.
The rally involved a number of musicians and marchers dressed in balaclavas.
Sinn Fein said “the city center has been virtually closed” and that “while everyone has the right to demonstrate peacefully, it is everyone’s responsibility to act within the law.”
Councilor Darryn Causby, whip of the 11-member DUP group on the council (the largest one-party bloc), said the parade passed right outside his door.
Asked about balaclavas, he said: “These are just people hiding their identities.
“I would be very reluctant to suggest that these people were paramilitaries – in fact, I would suspect that they are not.
“These are people who are frustrated and angry, and who wanted to display their anger and frustration.
“But I certainly wouldn’t suggest paramilitaries were on the streets of Portadown [on Saturday]. It would be far from the truth.
He added: “I understood that this was grassroots unionism – and not just unionists but also loyalists.
“We need to be clear here. “Loyalist” is not a bad word.
“These people are frustrated and angry and they need their views and concerns to be heard, and that’s what they’re trying to do.
“I don’t apologize for saying that. I’m fed up with loyalty being brandished as a dirty word and politicians always being accosted for engaging with the loyalist community.
“These people who were angry [on Saturday] are good people.
Regarding the fact that the parade was not notified (and therefore illegal), he said: “I support the right of everyone to protest; of course my preference is for this to be done within the limits of the law.
And when it came to a call from Sinn Fein for those involved to be investigated, Councilor Causby said: “We will not be taking any Sinn Fein conferences on these issues.
“Their background says enough about them, and it is sometimes very difficult to hear what they say because the background noise of hypocrisy is so loud.”
PSNI Chief Inspector Barney O’Connor said: “Police were present at a number of unreported marches in Portadown, which merged on West Street before marching together to join a protest in downtown. the city.
“About 300 people took part in the processions and another 500 attended the protest, which started at 3 pm.
“The crowd was mostly families and there was no problem.
“To ensure road safety for those present and other members of the public in the area, the police diverted traffic around the demonstration for a short time.
“Trade has been made easier for local shops and businesses.
“Parade / procession organizers are required to formally notify their intentions, and a number of verbal and visual warnings were therefore given by police to participants this afternoon.
“An evidence-gathering operation was in place and we will now review all images collected and investigate any alleged violations of the Public Procession Act 1998 (NI).”
The newsletter reached out to the Mid Ulster Coalition online to ask questions, including whether there will be a repeat of the parade. No response was received.
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