21 October 2005

More loyalist threats: 'We'll Bring Ulster To A Total Standstill'

News Letter

Gemma Murray, Security Correspondent
Thursday 20th October 2005

Loyalist women have threatened to bring Northern Ireland to a standstill on November 4 if they do not get the face-to-face meetings they are demanding with the Secretary of State. Women Raising Unionist Concerns (WRUC), who formed last month in the aftermath of the Whiterock parade and subsequent rioting, said they are not going away and claimed it is time for Prime Minister Tony Blair to "wake up and smell the coffee".
Chairwoman of the group Jean Barnes, from east Belfast, said their movement had "nothing to do with paramilitaries and everything to do with saving our culture, schools, traditions and Ulster". She said Ulster's men had their chance, and now it is time for them to "get out of the way". "It is our turn to sort the problems out a different way - through peaceful protest and dialogue," she said.

Earlier this week, the WRUC delivered a letter outlining their concerns to representatives at Stormont. They gave the letter to UUP, PUP and SDLP politicians.
"We then hand-delivered the letter to the offices of Sinn Fein, the DUP and Alliance," said Jean. "The Secretary of State, Peter Hain, told us his door would always be open to hear our concerns but that has not been the case. "We want the Government to know that we are aware of what they are doing - how they are trying to erode the unionist people by conquering and dividing them and then driving them into the ground. "The Government are always one step ahead - but we want everyone to know what they are trying to do." Last month, loyalist women blocked main roads throughout Belfast for more than six consecutive days in protest at police brutality towards Protestants.

"The strength of emotion coming from women in Protestant areas really hit home last month after Whiterock," said Ms Barnes. "We got together for a couple of meetings in the Spectrum Centre in the Shankill and WRUC got off the ground. "Peter Hain and Tony Blair had better sit up and take notice because we proved a couple of weeks ago that we could bring Ulster to a standstill through road protests.
"And if we have not heard back from the politicians by November 4 we will take to the streets again. "We will bring Ulster to a standstill. We will go where we have to go and do what we have to do. "On November 4, if we have nothing, every road in Belfast will be closed at 3pm. "We do not just want a letter back from the parties, we want face-to-face meetings and accountability."


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