Northern Ireland news

Concerns raised about erection of NI Protocol protest posters in Co Armagh

A large group gathered in Markethill on Monday night with several individuals erecting posters in the village

CONCERNS have been raised about posters put up in Co Armagh opposing Brexit trade arrangements in Northern Ireland.

Images have been shared on social media of a large group of men gathered in Markethill on Monday night with several individuals putting up posters in the village.

One placard states: "Play your part in opposing the border in the Irish Sea, Markethill stands up" with an image of the UVF Larne gun running operation in 1914.

Another says: "The Northern Irish men and women are born free and equal in dignity and rights to their English, Scottish and Welsh brothers and sisters".

A PSNI spokeswoman said a report was received at around 7.15pm on Monday evening "that a group of men were erecting posters in the Markethill area".

"Officers attended the area and observed the posters, however detected no large groups. Police maintained a presence in the area during the remainder of Monday evening."

Chief Inspector Bernard O'Connor asked "anyone with information to contact us on 101".

There are reports of similar posters appeareing in Banbridge, Portadown, Loughgall and Armagh.

It comes just days after the PSNI said the erection of posters in Lurgan town centre was being treated as a hate incident.

The placards depicted a female figure holding a rifle underneath the phrase "Ulster 1912 - 2021?", while below it stated: "Deserted. Well - I can stand alone" and "time to decide".

They are believed to have been put up over the weekend.

Sinn Féin Upper Bann MLA John O’Dowd condemned the posters, which he said appeared to be "replicas of a historical poster of the 1912 period when thousand of guns were illegally landed in Ireland by the UVF".

"The addition of the term ‘Time to Decide’ is seen by many as a call to repeat the use of the gun in modern day Irish politics," he said.

SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly yesterday also raised concerns about the posters in Lurgan and questioned if it was "a call to arms".

"Is it saying, are you up for it in 2021 in the same way that others were up for it in 1912 in challenging the British state in relation to Home Rule and the threat of violence against the British at that time by the unionist community," the Upper Bann MLA told the BBC.

"I think there is a bit of explaining to do."

But PUP councillor Billy Hutchinson said his "understanding is that these things are going up because communities are annoyed and they’re having a peaceful protest".

"I don’t think they’re putting them up for violent reasons," he added.

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