Northern Ireland news

Loyalists set to discuss Brexit 'betrayal' at east Belfast meeting

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson
Paul Ainsworth

LOYALISTS are planning to meet tonight to discuss a response to Boris Johnson's Brexit deal amid calls to "defend our precious union".

A meeting is to take place in the East Belfast Constitutional Club on the predominantly loyalist Newtownards Road.

Promoted by loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson, it urges unionism to "awake from our silence" over the Prime Minister's EU withdrawal deal, which if implemented will result in regulatory and customs checks on goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Posting on Twitter about tonight's meeting, Mr Bryson said: "We will never tolerate an economic United Ireland. Join together to smash the Betrayal Act & defend our cherished place in the union. We will never go quietly."

Read More: Sammy Wilson says DUP 'does not seek second referendum'

There has been speculation in recent days that some loyalists could take to the streets, in a repeat of scenes witnessed during the flag disputes of 2012 and 2013, in opposition to a 'sea border' being imposed.

However, Rev Paul Burns of the Adullam Christian Fellowship Church in the loyalist heartland of Sandy Row in Belfast, told The Irish News that loyalist reaction to the deal could be tempered through "clarity" from both the UK and the EU on unionism's place post-Brexit.

"If there is an assurance clause that says our Britishness will be preserved, then that will go some way towards removing the fear factor that currently exists," he said.

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"Clarity, and assurances that the people of Northern Ireland can have their say on the direction we go is what is needed. Without that, Northern Ireland being Northern Ireland, protests will more than likely take place."

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