Councillor stands by ‘rabble’ comment

ALLIANCE councillor Tom Campbell has refused to apologise for comments he made on a social networking site about those preparing to protest against Belfast City Council’s move to stop flying the Union flag every day.

Friday, 7th December 2012, 4:58 am

The Jordanstown man attracted complaints and criticism from members of the public and fellow councillors on Monday (December 3) after branding those planning to demonstrate at Monday evening’s meeting of Belfast City Council “a rabble”.

However, following scenes of violence at the City Hall during which several police officers and civilians were injured, councillor Campbell has said he was right in his description of the protesters.

Claiming that some of his Alliance Party colleagues were deliberately intimidated in the run up to the meeting, and others threatened afterwards, he commented: “I make no apology for referring to those targeting Alliance elected representatives and staff for abuse as rabble. This was a well organised campaign of intimidation which led predictably to violence.

“I trust that those small numbers of law abiding persons who were there to make a genuine peaceful protest will cooperate with the police in identifying those of their number who were involved in the disgraceful scenes of violence and destruction. This is the key test as to whether they can in all conscience distinguish themselves from the rabble that was involved in the violence on Monday night.

“I have no objection to peaceful and respectful protest, but this campaign has been far from such aims, as amply displayed by the predictable disgraceful scenes at City Hall this week.”

The vote taken by the council on Monday night means the Union flag will now only be flown from the City Hall on statutory days.