Northern Ireland news

Unionists to hold more Brexit protest meetings in coming days

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds
Connla Young

Unionists have organised two more protest meetings - including in the constituency of DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds - in response to Boris Johnson’s controversial Withdrawal Agreement.

Details emerged after hundreds of people, including loyalist paramilitary figures, attended a meeting in east Belfast earlier this week.

Unionists have reacted angrily to plans by the prime minister to create an economic border down the Irish Sea if his Brexit deal with EU leaders goes through.

The latest meetings have been set up to discuss what some unionists have branded the ‘Betrayal Act’ as tensions continue to rise.

In recent weeks DUP leader Arlene Foster has met with people close to the thinking of both the UDA and UVF.

Mary Street Orange Hall in Newtownards, Co Down, will be the venue for a meeting on Friday night, which is due to be held under the banner of Unite Unionist Group and the British People’s Voice.

A similar meeting will be held at North Belfast Orange Hall, which is on Alexandra Park Avenue, next Friday.

The gathering will take place in the heart of Mr Dodds’s North Belfast constituency.

On Thursday the veteran unionist made an impassioned plea in the House of Commons.

"Let's have a bit of clarity and honesty in this house,” he said.

“The fact of the matter is this will adversely affect the most important trade that we have."

Read more: `Loyalist community can mobilise large numbers for public disorder' - PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne

He warned MPs that “you are really in danger here of causing real problems with the Belfast Agreement, with the St Andrews Agreement, the political institutions and political stability in Northern Ireland by what you are doing to the unionist community”.

"Please wake up and realise what is happening here. We need to get our heads together here and look at a way forward that can solve this problem,” he said.

“Don't plough ahead regardless, I urge you."

Details of the meetings came as his party colleague and fellow MP, Emma Little-Pengelly warned that the proposed Brexit deal “would weaken the union”.

“The proposed deal is not one any unionist could or should support,” she said.

“The proposals represent the most significant internal change to the Union since the Act of Union 1801, which guaranteed internal trade within the kingdom,” she said.

Read more: Loyalists plan 'war of attrition'

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