Northern Ireland news

Unionist/Loyalist grassroots group calls on politicians to join in anti-protocol 'civil disobedience' protests during marching season

Loyalists took part in an anti-Protocol rally in Portadown on Saturday. There have been calls by a unionist grassroots group for civil disobedience over the summer months Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

A GROUP representing '"grass roots unionism" is leading calls for a campaign of "peaceful civil disobedience" in opposition to the NI Protocol.

In a report released by the Unionist Voice, it urges politicians to work in tandem with it to create "maximum political and societal instability" during the forthcoming marching season.

The group claims the Protocol agreement, introduced as a result of the Brexit and which created a trade border down the Irish Sea that requires checks and controls on goods moving between Britain and the north, is "unlawful".

The report's publication follows an illegal anti-protocol protest in Portadown on Saturday, which was attended by more than 300 people, with some wearing balaclavas. A further 500 joined a demonstration.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie and Upper Bann DUP MP Carla Lockhart were among those present, with both defending their attendance saying they were observers.

The report says it is "incumbent" upon unionist politicians to "retaliate with political action and inflict upon north-south relationships the same damage as that which has been inflicted on east-west".

Authors urge political and grassroots unionism/loyalism to "frustrate the continued operation of the institutions and engage in a campaign of civil disobedience, especially throughout the upcoming marching season".

"The report supports the view that it is plainly necessary for the injustice of the protocol to be resisted and a balance restored in order to protect peace in Northern Ireland," a Unionist Voice spokesman said.

He added: "It is wholly illogical to expect unionism to operate and progress within the confines of institutions which rest on the fundamental premise that nationalism's rights and protections must be treated as a holy writ, but those of unionism can be dispensed with if they are an impediment to advancing nationalism's demands (such as the imposition of the protocol).

"That is a wholly unworkable, unjust and morally repugnant system of government."

Criticism of the Dublin government is also made, and its support for the protocol with authors saying it will be difficult to achieve 'north-south' harmonisation.

DUP leader Edwin Poots met Taoiseach Michael Martin in Dublin last week after previously saying north-south relations "have never been worse".

On Sunday evening, Mr Poots issued a statement confirming he will "use the courts" to legally challenge further implementation of the protocol.

The report claims there is a "fundamental imbalance between north-south relationships and east-west relationships".

It says there the opportunity to build on grassroots unionist and loyalist support.

"We can create maximum societal instability through a campaign of peaceful civil disobedience. Working in tandem, a powerful instability can be created which will bring home to the government, the Irish government, and the European Union that the protocol is unsustainable."

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