Northern Ireland

UVF warning of violence described as 'deplorable'

The UVF says there could be violence on the streets. Picture by Mal McCann
The UVF says there could be violence on the streets. Picture by Mal McCann The UVF says there could be violence on the streets. Picture by Mal McCann

A WARNING from the UVF that there "is a very clear danger of violence" if the British government does not get rid of the Northern Ireland Protocol have been described as "deplorable".

SDLP assembly member Matthew O'Toole last night said the comments made by the loyalist paramilitary group "must be condemned".

It comes after the UVF said there "is a genuine threat to peace" amid continuing tensions about the protocol.

A senior loyalist yesterday told the Sunday World that disorder could return to the streets if the UK government does not move to remove the Protocol.

The warning comes just months after the UVF were behind the hoax bomb threat that forced Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney to leave a cross-community meeting in Belfast.

The group has also issued a series of threats as part of their anti-Protocol campaign.

"The government has acknowledged the threat of violence is a valid reason to scrap the Protocol," the loyalist was reported as saying.

"Nobody wants violence, but there is only one way to prevent it.

"It's up to the government, their choice."

Also praising the DUP, who this week refused to engage with the Assembly unless there are significant changes to the protocol, the loyalist source said the party had "done everything they said they would".

The loyalist added that the British government has been warned about "the seriousness of this, it is a genuine threat to peace".

"The UVF take a view on whether they will deliver, if they don't then we are in a very dangerous situation where serious consideration will be given to the next stage of the campaign," he said.

"Loyalism didn't want to be in this position, but we have nowhere else to go."

Mr O'Toole last night said said "threats of violence are deplorable and must be condemned".

"Sadly these threats do not come in a vacuum, but after months of amped up rhetoric from extreme political voices, and constant talk from the UK government of instability," he said.

"Most people here support the implementation of the Protocol and want to see sensible mitigations agreed in the proper way - not after threats from unelected, anti-democratic forces."