Brexit: Loyalists plan action if Boris Johnson 'shafts' Northern Ireland

A UVF mural in Belfast

LOYALIST paramilitaries predict protests and civil disobedience campaigns if the British government seeks to align Northern Ireland customs arrangements with the Republic in any Brexit compromise.

Sources within the UVF in east Belfast said it is planning demonstrations using proxies if anything is done which it believes 'dilutes' Northern Ireland's status within the UK.

The UDA in west Belfast is adopting a "wait and see" approach until any Brexit deal is announced but contingency plans are being made, sources told the Sunday Times.

It comes amid reports that a deal may involve customs and regulatory checks in the Irish Sea to ensure an open border in Ireland. This could anger loyalists who view it as moving towards a united Ireland.

An unnamed UDA figure told the newspaper: "Boris Johnson has shafted the loyalist people of Northern Ireland. The DUP are not the only people Boris should be consulting."

Loyalist Robert Girvan said he could not see loyalism "just walking into a situation where there is any type of economic union with the Irish Republic".

"I was talking to someone who said we'll see how hard the border is if bombs start going off in Limerick."

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson said: "If Northern Ireland is aligned in any way to the Republic, I think the flag protests of 2013 will look like a day at the beach.

"I would advocate peaceful protest and civil disobedience as no-one wants to see violence, but I think when you have mass numbers of people on the streets, violence will occur."

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said threats of violence from loyalists or republicans "are not a basis for a country to make any decisions".

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said "nobody should be talking about bombs going off anywhere", adding: "Please everyone dial down the rhetoric."

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