Brexit sea border deal risks return to violence, Trimble claims

Northern Ireland protocol ‘wilfully tears up’ Belfast Agreement, former UUP leader says

David Trimble: the Northern Ireland protocol “changes fundamentally” the constitutional relationship with the rest of the UK and ignores the principle of consent enshrined in the Belfast Agreement.  Photograph: Eric Luke

David Trimble: the Northern Ireland protocol “changes fundamentally” the constitutional relationship with the rest of the UK and ignores the principle of consent enshrined in the Belfast Agreement. Photograph: Eric Luke

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The Northern Ireland protocol in the EU-UK Brexit deal risks a return of violence, pulls apart the Belfast Agreement and “must not be allowed to stand”, former first minister David Trimble has said.

The former Ulster Unionist Party leader said that rather than protecting the “hard-fought” gains in the 1998 peace agreement, the protocol “wilfully tears it up”.

He warned that the “unintended but unquestionably escalating tensions” created by it “represent a real and present danger to the lives of people living in Northern Ireland”.

‘Grievances and resentments’

“If the genuine grievances and resentments caused by the protocol are not addressed politically, then there is real potential for those who have engaged in past violence to take action again into their own hands,” he writes in an opinion piece in today’s Irish Times.

Many unionists oppose the trade barriers introduced between Northern Ireland and Britain under the deal negotiated as part of Britain’s departure from the EU with a view to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Feeling of betrayal

Lord Trimble, who helped broker the Belfast Agreement, says the protocol “changes fundamentally” the constitutional relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and ignores the principle of consent enshrined in the Belfast Agreement.

“I personally feel betrayed by this. I made huge personal and political sacrifices to persuade the people of Northern Ireland of the Belfast Agreement’s benefits,” he writes, adding that the majority unionist population in Northern Ireland “feel betrayed too”.