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UK News Discontent growing over Northern Ireland protocol, police warn

14:55  27 january  2021
14:55  27 january  2021 Source:   msn.com

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Discontent in loyalist communities is “growing” over the Northern Ireland protocol, a senior police officer has said.

a truck is parked on the side of a road: A senior PSNI officer said discontent in loyalist communities is ‘growing’ over the Northern Ireland protocol (Brian Lawless/PA) © Brian Lawless A senior PSNI officer said discontent in loyalist communities is ‘growing’ over the Northern Ireland protocol (Brian Lawless/PA)

More graffiti as well as low-level intelligence and social media monitoring have provided early pointers, but feedback is not causing the force significant concern, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.

The force is braced for more street protests over disruption to trade from the rest of the UK once the coronavirus emergency and lockdown restrictions ease.

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Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan said: “We are seeing signals, there are signal incidents that have happened, particularly in recent days.

“We are starting to see graffiti, we are picking up social media sentiment of a growing discontent, particularly within the Protestant/loyalist/unionist community.

“That has not manifested itself in any out workings at this point.”

Northern Ireland is continuing to follow some of the EU’s rules despite Brexit, to prevent the establishment of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Hauliers have faced difficulties transporting stock to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

Mr McEwan said the end of the three-month grace period on March 31, for supermarkets transporting goods and requiring parcels sent to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK to include customs declarations, is an important date.

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Unless a political solution is found, that could see some items become unavailable in Northern Ireland, or become more costly.

Mr McEwan told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of MPs: “That will focus people’s minds, I believe, in terms of how Northern Ireland looks and feels for certain members of our community.”

The country’s coronavirus lockdown has been extended until March 5.

Mr McEwan added: “If we get to the point where we don’t have such stringent restrictions, where people are not as worried about the health crisis, we may see that manifest in the likes of protests, and we are prepared for that.”

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He said intelligence on the unionist community is not causing significant concern but it is something the force is monitoring.

“Were we not in this current environment around the pandemic we would probably see a more visible outworking of that on the streets of Northern Ireland,” he added.

The Northern Ireland protocol is designed to allow the country to follow the EU’s customs rules and has caused delays at the ports because of new declarations and checks.

The DUP has been vociferous in opposition to the protocol’s operation.

The party’s North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said there is “anger and bitterness” in the communities he represents.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan said more protests may happen when lockdown is eased (Rebecca Black/PA) © Provided by PA Media Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan said more protests may happen when lockdown is eased (Rebecca Black/PA)

He told the committee: “Some sections of the community are starting to sense that they are sitting on a powder keg.”

Claire Hanna, the nationalist SDLP’s anti-Brexit MP for South Belfast, said it is proper that the senior officer be measured in his comments.

She added: “We do not need any trouble at a very difficult time.”

Goods are flowing effectively between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Government has previously said.

The end of the transition period has produced deep-seated structural problems which will not be quick to resolve, the Road Haulage Association warned.

Permanent solutions needed to NI Protocol to ensure unfettered access: DUP .
Jeffrey Donaldson made the remarks after crunch talks on the protocol between Northern Ireland’s leaders and the UK and EU. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic held a virtual meeting with First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill on Wednesday evening.Mr Donaldson described the trade difficulties as not just short term, but long term.“That’s why we need not just a short-term fix or tinkering around the edges of this or kicking the can down the road,” he told RTE News.

usr: 0
This is interesting!