16 December 1999 Edition

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``Go home you Fenian bastard''

In a week which saw a number of DUP-inspired protests against Martin McGuinness, the SDLP also became the target of No-camp unionist protests.

Brid Rodgers came under attack from loyalist protesters in Portavogie, County Down as she opened the Seafish Industry Association Centre on Friday, 10 December.

Rodgers, the Minister for Agriculture, arrived around 11am and was confronted by around 20 loyalists carrying flags and a banner declaring ``Portavogie supports the Portadown Orangemen''.

Rodgers was pelted with eggs as the protesters shouted ``No surrender'', Go home you Fenian bastard'' and made references to murdered human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson, shouting ``What about Rosemary?''

One of the protesters, Steven Cooke, said: ``The reason for the protests was that they did not want a nationalist councillor to be elected in the village. Speaking of the SDLP minister, Cooke said: ``When she started her opening speech in the Assembly she ended it in Gaelic; that is a foreign language in this country''.

Rodgers would not comment on whether she was happy with the level of RUC protection she was given but later SDLP sources voiced their concern that such an incident could be allowed to take place.

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