The Highfield Rangers supporters club have reacted furiously to what they have branded a “false and malicious” article carried in today’s (07/04/19) edition of the Sunday Life. The publication carried a range of anonymous allegations pertaining to their well run and respected social club.
These allegations largely appeared to be directed towards two well-known loyalists Jim Spence and Eric McKee. Unionist Voice understands that despite a wide range of serious allegations being made against the two individuals in recent years that at no stage has the publication made any effort to contact either of the men to offer them the opportunity to address the allegations made against them.
The Highfield Rangers Supporters Club has been running in the area for decades and is known as a well-run club that prides itself on acting as a social hub for the local community. Club members have expressed disgust at the allegations made in relation to the club and furiously denied the unsubstantiated rumours converted into print in today’s Sunday Life.
The club’s secretary, Mr William McQuiston, told Unionist Voice “we would firstly like to point out that in the interests of fairness we were not offered any opportunity to reply to the outrageous allegations made in relation to our well run social club in today’s Sunday Life. Given the sufficiently serious allegations made against the club basic journalistic standards would have dictated that our club should have been offered a right of reply. This did not happen.
He continued “We can categorically dismiss the inaccurate, false and malicious allegations carried in today’s Sunday Life which are designed to draw PSNI attention to our club and damage our reputation within the local community. The allegation that Mr Spence, Mr McKee or anyone else is trying to ‘take-over’ our club or engage in criminal activity within our club is wholly false and malicious.”
The prominent loyalist ex-prisoner also expressed alarm at the somewhat bizarre nature of the allegations saying “the most absurd part of the story was the predication that crime, namely opening in breach of licensing laws at 8am, would take place at some unknown stage in the future. It appears the Sunday Life has become the print version of the Matrix. Whilst this is somewhat comical, the negative effect on our club and the wider community is very real.”
Mr McQuiston, who played a key role in conflict transformation initiatives and would have been easily accessible to the media also told Unionist Voice he was angry at how loyalists are treated by the press and challenged the lack of fairness and balance;
“Loyalists are entitled to the same levels of fairness as everyone else in society; however it appears that basic journalistic principles are not applied to loyalists who are treated as some kind of underclass. There is a mistaken belief that it is fair game to kick loyalists and fill pages with allegations because loyalists will just take it. That may have been true in the past, but it is most certainly not true in the future. Loyalists will demand fairness and equitable treatment. If there are false and malicious allegations printed then these will be robustly and strongly challenged through the appropriate legal channels.”
The former prisoner confirmed on behalf of the club that they will be commencing legal action and revealed that a substantial complaint had already been submitted to the press regulatory body.
“Our club has today lodged a formal complaint to the regulatory body IPSO and plan to commence formal legal action against the publication.”
Unionist Voice exists to act as a platform for disenfranchised and demonised sections of the grassroots unionist community and to challenge inequality. We will always be open and accessible to any and all sections of the unionist family to provide advocacy, assistance and a voice- even if it is deemed ‘unhelpful’ to the narrative promoted by the establishment.