Belfast Telegraph

Anger after 'Brits Out' displayed on Sinn Fein stall at Queen's Freshers' Fair

The message on display at the Ogra Sinn Fein stall at the Queen's Freshers' Fair.
The message on display at the Ogra Sinn Fein stall at the Queen's Freshers' Fair.

Unionists have expressed their anger after a Sinn Fein youth group displayed a poster featuring the words 'Brits Out' at the Queen's University Belfast Freshers' Fair.

The Freshers' Fair took place on Wednesday and Thursday at Lanyon Lawn and Whitla Hall.

It gives new students at Queen's the opportunity to find out about clubs and societies on offer at the university.

Sinn Fein currently have a branch of their youth wing, 'Ogra Sinn Fein', at Queen's.

The group set up a stall at the Freshers' Fair with information about the party and its youth group.

The stall was adorned with material relating to Sinn Fein, including posters of the late deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Free Derry Corner.

One poster advertising Ogra Sinn Fein featured 1916 Easter Rising leader James Connolly and an image of a group holding up a placard which includes the slogan 'Brits Out!!!'

Among those to attend the stall was the party's East Londonderry MLA and Further and Higher Education spokesperson Caoimhe Archibald.

DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly said those who erected the poster are an "embarrassment".

"Mary Lou McDonald carried a banner with a similar message at the New York St Patrick’s Day parade. She cannot hide from this backward statement," the South Belfast MP said.

Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald attended the stall. Credit: QUB Ogra Sinn Fein
Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald attended the stall. Credit: QUB Ogra Sinn Fein

"I am British. I have constituents in South Belfast who are British. Students at QUB are British. This poster is offensive and downright unacceptable. I would condemn such a statement if it related to any other nationality.

"There is enough space in Northern Ireland for people who are British, Irish or Northern Irish and those who identify as none of those. The University and Sinn Fein must distance themselves from this sectarian and racist poster.”

The Chair of Queen's Young Unionists Nathan Redmond said that there was real anger among his peer group regarding the sign.

“Sinn Fein are very fond of talking about equality, rights and respect, portraying themselves as the guardians of all that is wholesome and defenders of the Belfast Agreement," he said.

“However, it never takes long until the mask slips and the true nature of Sinn Fein is laid bare for the world to see. So much for a shared future!

“Quite incredibly, this slogan was below a heading claiming Sinn Fein were anti-racist! It would appear that for Sinn Fein, the slogan ‘Brits Out’ is acceptable language, but as far as we are concerned, it is most certainly not.

"Imagine the perfectly justifiable outcry if a poster had been on display saying Polish out, Indians out or Chinese out?  So why do Sinn Fein think it is acceptable to display public racism towards people who have a British identity?  An identity that, it should be remembered, was recognised as perfectly legitimate by the Belfast Agreement itself."

Mr Redmond said that the incident would not help relations between young unionists and Queen's.

“Queen's has long been regarded as having an image problem as far as students of a Unionist background are concerned, and this shameful and racist display on the Sinn Fein stand at Freshers will do nothing to help alleviate that problem," he said.

"The Ulster Unionists have a message for the Sinn Fein youth wing at Queen's who displayed the ‘Brits Out’ slogan. We are the Brits, and no one will be putting us out, not now, not ever.”

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said the party would be "taking no lectures" from the UUP given their history of government in Northern Ireland dating back to the state's formation.

"We note the UUP have reserved their outrage for a historical image protesting for the removal of British military installations in Ireland, but managed to remain silent at attempts by British military forces to recruit students at a university Freshers Day," the spokesperson said..

Queen's University has been contacted in relation to this story.

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