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World 'Peace or protocol?': Loyalist protesters say the government has a choice to make

08:20  19 june  2021
08:20  19 june  2021 Source:   news.sky.com

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They were beating the drums so hard in Newtownards, County Down, you could almost have heard them in Downing Street.

a group of people standing in a parking lot: Loyalist protesters in Newtownards have been calling on Boris Johnson to scrap plans for an Irish Sea border © Sky News Screen Grab Loyalist protesters in Newtownards have been calling on Boris Johnson to scrap plans for an Irish Sea border

Loyalists are taking to the streets of Northern Ireland on an almost weekly basis to demand Boris Johnson scraps the Irish Sea border.

Jamie Bryson organised this rally. A loyalist close to the thinking of some paramilitaries, he says the government has a choice to make.

Mr Bryson said: "It says on the banner peace or the protocol, it's your choice. They can listen or they cannot listen.

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"But if they want to have peace and stability in Northern Ireland, then they're going to have to make a change to the partition of the United Kingdom."

text: The loyalist protesters are opposed to the idea of a border in the Irish Sea © Sky News Screen Grab The loyalist protesters are opposed to the idea of a border in the Irish Sea

Asked about the danger of bringing people onto the streets, he said it was more dangerous to partition the UK.

"If unionism don't stand now and don't take to the streets now, then what else do they do?" he asked.

The UK and EU agreed to put the Northern Ireland Protocol in place to avoid the introduction of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit.

Kate Hoey et al. sitting and looking at the camera: Baroness Hoey said the protocol threatened the Good Friday Agreement © Sky News Screen Grab Baroness Hoey said the protocol threatened the Good Friday Agreement

At the rally on Friday, platform speakers like Baroness Hoey said the protocol threatened the Good Friday Agreement rather than protected it.

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The sea border has left this community feeling isolated from the rest of the United Kingdom, their British identity under threat.

Heather Ramsay, who attended the protest, said: "We have to get rid of the protocol. The protocol must go. It's diluting our unionism with Britain.

"We're feeling very alone, we're feeling as if we've been abandoned, we're feeling as if nobody wants us to be part of them."

Loyalists view the sea border as appeasement - the EU's response to threats of republican violence in the event of a border on this island.

But that's created the dangerous impression that violence or the threat of it brings reward.

Hazel Officer, another participant in the rally, said: "The other side have got everything they wanted by causing mayhem, fear and death.

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a person standing in front of a crowd: Heather Ramsay said the unionist community is 'feeling very alone' © Sky News Screen Grab Heather Ramsay said the unionist community is 'feeling very alone'

"Maybe it's about time we thought about doing the same. I certainly am willing to give my life for it."

These people did not expect Brexit to result in an Irish Sea border and feel betrayed by the the prime minister.

That has left unionist parties, like the DUP, boxed in with no room for any compromise to save devolved government.

In other words, Brexit and its consequences could signal the end of power-sharing at Stormont, leaving a dangerous political vacuum.

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usr: 0
This is interesting!