Brexit fury erupts in night of violence over hated deal – party leader targeted in attack

Brexit: We must ‘do right by Northern Ireland’ says Davis

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Doug Beattie, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), saw his office in Portadown, County Armagh, attacked on Sunday. It came just hours after he refused to take part in any further protests against the Northern Ireland Protocol, which he said were “raising tensions” in the country.

The window of the party leader’s office was smashed by a concrete block according to police.

Officers said the incident happened sometime between 8:30pm on Sunday and 8:30am on Monday.

PSNI Sergeant Berry said: “It was reported that sometime between 8.30pm yesterday (Sunday 27th March) and 8.30am today, Monday, a concrete block was thrown at the main window of a property at Bridge Street in the town.

“Enquiries are at an early stage, and I appealing to anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity, or have any information which could assist, to contact police on 101, and quote reference number 675 of 28/03/22.

“Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.”

Speaking after the incident, Mr Beattie said he will not be intimidated following the “cowardly attack”.

He said: “The attack on my office overnight is one of the inevitable consequences I have been warning about.

“My primary concern is for the welfare of my staff and this was a cowardly attack on their workplace which provides a service to the people of Upper Bann.

“What it will not do is deter me from carrying out my democratic work or speaking out when I have genuine concerns about the direction in which people are being led.

“Attacking offices and attempting to intimidate politicians demonstrates the weakness of your argument if that is what you have to resort to.”

The UUP leader then reiterated his party’s commitment to replacing the Northern Ireland Protocol, but added: “Blood and thunder rhetoric from a lectern will not help nor solve the Protocol problem.

“This is exactly what we need to avoid. We need to learn the lessons of the past.

“If anyone thinks that they can intimidate me or the Ulster Unionist Party, they clearly don’t know me or understand the party I represent.”

On Sunday, Mr Beattie said: “It is now clear that anti-protocol rallies are being used to raise the temperature in Northern Ireland and adding to tensions that now see a resurgence in (Ulster Volunteer Force, a paramilitary group) activity.

“The Ulster Unionist Party will not be part of raising tensions or the temperature by bringing people onto the streets with an intent to harness anger.

“As a party we will continue to engage in all community-led meetings where we will answer our critics. As the party leader I will make myself available, where possible, to explain my rationale for dealing with the protocol.”

The attack has been condemned by DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who said those behind the incident were “completely wrong” and that their actions “contribute nothing to their opposition to the protocol”.

Sir Jeffrey was among those who addressed a rally against the protocol on Friday, alongside TUV leader Jim Allister, Baroness Hoey, Ben Habib and Jamie Bryson in Ballymoney, Co Antrim.

Mr Bryson said: “This is to be condemned. The way to show opposition to the UUP is simply be rejecting them at the polls.

“We need to engage with Doug Beattie in public debate and outline the view of why the UUP are so wrong and damaging the Union. Attacking his premises doesn’t advance the issue.”

Mr Bryson said during the Ballymoney protest on Friday that “its time to politically fire (the temperature) up”.

He said on Twitter on Monday: “For the avoidance of any doubt: I stand over every word of my speech in Ballymoney.

“It did, of course, contain the very clear position that protests should be wholly peaceful. It also said it’s time to politically raise the temperature. And so it is.”

It is unknown who is behind the attack on Mr Beattie’s office.

It comes after police say they believe the UVF was responsible for the planting of a hoax device in a van in north Belfast on Friday.

That incident led to a bomb alert at a peace-building event and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney was forced to leave due to security concerns.

A 41-year-old man and 38-year-old woman were arrested on Sunday following the incident, which is being linked to the UVF.

Detectives questioned the man under the Terrorism Act while the woman was detained on suspicion of possessing a firearm in suspicious circumstances, possessing criminal property and concealing criminal property.

Two vehicles, a quantity of controlled drugs and a large sum of cash were also recovered.

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