Belfast Telegraph



By Claire McGahan and Gail Walker

THE former Lord Mayor who welcomed Bill Clinton to Belfast was today in

THE former Lord Mayor who welcomed Bill Clinton to Belfast was today in the dock for starting his own boycott of Catholic-owned businesses.

The Rev Eric Smyth's revelation that he no longer shops in Catholic stores and is 'careful' where he buys his petrol was greeted with derision by nationalists.

The DUP councillor told the forum he had not been brought up to take such action but his conscience had dictated the need to strike back.

My Smyth also accused President Clinton _ with whom he shared a platform at the highpoint of last year's Presidential visit _ of being a supporter of Irish republicanism.

He declared: 'I have started my boycott. I will not shop in any Catholic shop.

'Ordinary people are fed- up with the nationalists. Every time they do not get their own way, this is what they do.'He added that Mr Clinton could not criticise him for boycotting nationalist shops when he 'has been dropping bombs on people in Iraq.

'The President stands for republicanism and is a supporter of it,' he said.

West Belfast MP Dr Joe Hendron said he was extremely disappointed with Mr Smyth.

He said: 'He is a man whom in the past I have had a great deal of respect for and I thought he did his best as Lord Mayor.

'However, I think this is very loose talk. In fact, I find this an amazing statement from Eric Smyth.

'There's always a risk this sort of thing could spread a boycott to Belfast.'Sean Farren, SDLP former forum delegate for North Antrim, chided Mr Smyth for his remarks which he said would leader to a widening of the boycott.

'With the summer over and opportunities for contact between parties now available, talk of a boycott _ particularly along the lines Eric Smyth has adopted _ should be something of the past.'Ulster Unionist councillor and forum member Jim Rodgers also condemned Mr Smyth's stand today.

But rounding on nationalist boycotts, he warned that if they continue, Protestants would inevitably start their own boycotts.

'Everyone is entitled to their personal opinion. Eric Smyth is a man of deep beliefs, but I am not in favour of tit-for-tat boycotts and would call for an immediate end to them.

'I have no doubt that nationalist boycotts are being orchestrated by Sinn Fein/ IRA.

'And if this goes on and there is clear evidence of businesses closing down and people losing jobs, I think it is inevitable that the Protestant community will get involved.'Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, meanwhile, has said his party was not behind any boycott, but said it was a legitimate form of protest against those who took part in intimidation of Catholics during Drumcree.

Belfast Telegraph


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