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Frazer doesn't speak for us says Bryson

Published 08/02/2013

LEADING flag protester Willie Frazer last night insisted that he was still a spokesman for the Ulster People's Forum after a "heated" showdown with chairman Jamie Bryson.

On Wednesday Mr Bryson issued a statement on behalf of the group saying it "no longer validates Willie Frazer as a spokesperson".

However, the controversial victims campaigner said he did still speak for the forum after meeting Mr Bryson and other members at a Belfast hotel yesterday.

The forum was set up by angry loyalists in the weeks after December 3 when Belfast City Council voted to restrict the flying of the Union flag at the city hall to 18 designated days each year.

Since then the forum has been central in organising flag protests across the north.

Sources said yesterday's meeting was "heated" and that at times voices were raised as the two men clashed over the forum's future.

However, they appeared together afterwards to say they had put their disagreement behind them and were now "fully united".

The protest leaders fell out last month after Mr Bryson (22) announced that the forum was abandoning the tactic of blocking public roads in favour of white-line pickets.

Mr Frazer branded the policy shift a "mistake" and questioned whether the forum had approved the move.

The statement issued by the forum on Wednesday followed a meeting of the group that evening.

"Unfortunately recent statements made by Willie Frazer in the media are contrary to some of the views, plans and agreed policies of the Ulster People's Forum," it said.

"We have invited Willie Frazer to various meetings to discuss and re solve these issues. Unfortunately he has chosen not to accept these invitations.

"The Ulster People's Forum no longer validates Willie Frazer as a spokesperson and the committee stands over the statement made by Ulster People's Forum on January 30.

"The committee wish to make clear that Jamie Bryson is the only officially elected spokesperson of the Ulster People's Forum and has their full support."

However, after yesterday's meeting Mr Frazer said: "The aims and objectives of the organisation have not changed and the whole thing is moving in the same direction as it started out in.

"It was admitted that communications were a problem and in future nothing will be done until it is run past the full committee and myself.

"The whole thing about white-line pickets and roadblocks is that it's down to the people in their own areas what they do."

Mr Frazer (52), formerly head of south Armagh victims group Fair, said the flag issue must be resolved.

"It's going on now for 10 weeks and we need to get this sorted out before the marching season because we don't know where it will end up," he said.