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Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
Loyalists protest at hospital visit
Protesters used a Landrover to block hospital entrance
Protesters used a Landrover to block hospital entrance
Sinn Fein health minister Bairbre de Brun has been confronted by angry loyalist protesters during an official visit to a County Antrim hospital.

Around 20 demonstrators picketed the Lagan Valley Hospital in Lisburn, while she was inside on Wednesday afternoon.

The tyres on the minister's car were let down and an egg was thrown. Ms de Brun was forced to leave the complex by another door.

She was there to see a GP scheme as part of a programme to learn about aspects of the health service.

She accused the protesters of disrupting health and social services, blocking entry to the hospital and damaging departmental cars.

Bairbre de Brun
de Brun: Protesters were disrupting health services in their own area
But she said she would not be put off doing her job.

"My job is to try to do the best for everybody and I have made it clear from the outset that I have a job to do and I intend to that job," she said.

It was the first time Ms de Brun has been confronted by an anti-republican crowd on an official engagement.

Her party colleague, education Minister Martin McGuinness has been the focus of unionist anger over Sinn Fein appointments to the Northern Ireland powerhsraing Executive.

David Archer, an anti-Good Friday Agreement Ulster Unionist councillor, was among the demonstrators and said the minister's visit was "nothing short of an insult to the many people who have suffered at the hands of republicans".

He added: "It is only right and proper that the people of Lisburn show their opposition to the visit of Sinn Fein/IRA Ministers.

"Let our protest send a clear signal to all concerned, we will not tolerate such visits in Lisburn Borough.

"If Bairbre de Brun and Martin McGuinness think that they can sneak quietly into this borough, they need to think again."

Anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party assemblyman Edwin Poots, who was also protesting, said he wanted to send the message that neither Ms de Brun nor Mr McGuinness were welcome in Lisburn.

In July the DUP was unsuccessful in gaining support in the assembly for a motion to exclude Sinn Fein's two ministers from the executive.

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