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Unionist leaders must wake up to protesters' fears

THE threatened march to take place this Saturday on our capital city on the most important day in the trading calendar is not an ill-considered action by an ignorant mob. It is an articulate political demonstration by a section of our community who see themselves as alienated from the rest of their society; ignored and isolated by their political leaders.

It is only people who believe that they are so ostracised who would consciously set out to damage the economy of their city.

At the root of the early rioting, vandalism and drunken brawls was a real fear by those involved that their perceived Ulster unionist identity was being threatened.

Added to this is the economic distress caused by the ruthless enforcement of the ineffective policy of austerity that is hurting the poor and vulnerable the most. Resentment against the perceived threat to identity is felt by many throughout the Protestant community. Disingenuous remarks by DUP politicians have done nothing to allay that fear.

This march is a rally against a duplicitous unionist leadership. It is important to Northern Ireland that this leadership wakes up to the danger of merely tolerating the unrest and makes a real effort to unite and lead their people towards an integrated democratic society.

Sadly, judging by the unionists' performance up to now, this seems unlikely to happen, in which case we are entering dangerous times.

DENIS MAYNE

Bangor, Co Down

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