Roy Beggs MLA has echoed the view of his Party Leader, Mike Nesbitt that recent street violence is damaging the community and the image of Northern Ireland, and that politics must be seen to work rather than violence on our streets.
Roy Beggs said, “What would the Queen or the Baron of Carrickfergus make of the recent violence on our streets? I would urge everyone to give dialogue and politics a chance. The Unionist Forum allows for all unionists to engage and for issues of concern to be taken forward and worked on at a political level. It is clear that when protest is brought onto our streets at this time, things can easily get out of control and violence can erupt. Police Officers, protestors or ordinary citizens could easily be injured and young people could end up with a criminal record, reducing their future prospects.
The violence has also adversely affecting local businesses with customers being put off shopping. Ordinary workers are suffered as a result of reduced trade or early closing. I am also aware of the concern in the increasingly important hospitality sector that tourists could be put off visiting.
Having viewed Carrickfergus Town centre after the rioting, I would praise the council workforce for quickly removing the debris, and for the resilience of local traders who are open for business so quickly. I would call on the community to show their support for our Town Centre traders.”
The Ulster Unionist MLA added:
“I would again urge that street protest should cease at this time and for politics to be given a chance. Whilst the right to protest should be cherished in a democracy, given our recent experience, I would ask for a period of reflection in the interests of the entire community. ”
Note to editor
Weekend statement by Mike Nesbitt MLA, Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
Nesbitt appeals for calm
Ulster Unionist Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has appealed for calm on the streets of Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland following what he described as a bad 24 hours for the image of unionism.
“Images of burning vehicles, petrol bombs being thrown at the police, and people who carry the Union flag but mask their faces have nothing to do with my vision of being British.
“On Thursday, politicians and community activists offered a positive alternative to what has been happening since the 3rd of December, namely a Unionist Forum. I urge everyone who cares about the Union to give it some time and space to explore its potential.
“Street violence from so-called unionists, no matter what age, advances nothing but the cause of Irish nationalism. It is high time those involved in rioting realised they are destroying the very cause the hope to promote.”