A DUP assembly member has been lambasted over claims that the media ” exploited ” and ” overplayed ” the impact of the loyalist flags protests. North Down MLA Gordon Dunne said that coverage of two months of protests and violence – which has cost the economy an estimated £20 million and left about 100 police officers injured – had been badly handled by the press.
He was speaking after the Stormont enterprise committee heard about the devastating impact on trade in Belfast city centre. ” There is no doubt the media have overplayed the whole thing in relation to protests and that in itself has been detrimental in terms of bringing people into Belfast,” he told the committee. He added : ” The images of Northern Ireland in the last two months have been very negative. ” They’ve been wrong and the media certainly exploited it and they have used it and abused it.” Mr Dunne sits on the same council as Michael and Christine Bower, the two Alliance councillors whose Bangor home was targeted on December 6 by loyalists after Belfast City Council voted to restrict flying the Union Flag.
His comments were criticised last night by Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle who described them as ” ill-judged and wide of the mark “. ” It is solely the responsibility of the protesters and those behind the violence,” he said.
WITH MANY THANKS TO : JOHN MANLEY, IRISH NEWS.
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