The Ulster Unionist Party’s East Antrim MLA, John Stewart, has condemned the actions of a group of republicans in Limerick whose protest outside a concert by the British Legion Leiston Band, from Suffolk, prevented the event from going ahead.
John Stewart is a member of the Army Reserve and a keen historian who has published the ‘Carrickfergus Roll of Honour’, a comprehensive list of every man and woman from the Borough who served during the Two World Wars.
John Stewart said:
“The British Legion Leiston Band was invited to perform a concert which would remember the men from Knocklong who were killed in the First World War, and raise funds for a children’s playground for the local Heritage Park.
“The people who decided to protest against this concert and whose presence required a significant Garda presence, are nothing but pathetic, intolerant bigots and bully boys out to intimidate a community band which included members as young as 14 and as old as 77.
“They described the cancellation of the concert as a ‘massive victory for Socialist Republicans in the Munster area.’ If this is really what they think a massive victory looks like, I can only assume that there haven’t had too many victories in the past.
“The protestors really need to learn some history. 300,000 Irishmen served during the Great War, and 50,000 lost their lives. At least 1,000 of these were from Limerick, which has an active Royal British Legion Branch.
“I also challenge Sinn Fein to condemn this protest and to explain the comments words of Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan, whose response was both cowardly and pathetic, basically shrugging his shoulders and effectively saying, what else do you expect?
“Clearly the words ‘respect’ and ‘equality’ are merely empty election slogans to Sinn Fein. This is the type of Ireland Sinn Fein envisage, one in which any manifestation of Britishness is to be curtailed and the only history permitted to be remembered is a version of which they approve. Clearly Sinn Fein’s definition of an Ireland of equals is very different to the rest of us.”