Northern Ireland protocol has ‘wicked intent’, Down protest told

Former Labour MP Kate Hoey and TUV’s Jim Allister among speakers in Newtownards

TUV leader Jim Allister. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

TUV leader Jim Allister. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Brexiteers including former Labour MP Kate Hoey and former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib attended a protest against the Northern Ireland protocol in Co Down on Friday.

The demonstration, which took place in Newtownards, saw five protest parades marching towards the town centre.

TUV MLA and party leader Jim Allister and unionist activist Jamie Bryson also addressed the demonstration.

Mr Allister claimed the protocol had a “wicked intent” and called on the DUP to effectively collapse Stormont unless it is abandoned.

He told the crowd: “What needs to be done in Stormont is the new DUP leader needs to find a backbone, and he needs to resign the First Minister. He needs to say to the British prime minister, there will be no First Minister so long as there is a protocol.”

He said the protocol would cause the Northern Irish economy “to look away from London to look to Dublin”.

It would cause Northern Ireland to be “dependent on trade, on commerce on an all-Ireland basis rather than a United Kingdom basis”, he said.

“To build all of that infrastructure so that we get to the point where there is an all-Ireland economically.

“As I’ve already said, they then believe that a political all-Ireland is a natural follow-through. That is the wicked intent of the protocol.

“That is why, if we do not kill the protocol, the protocol will kill the union,” he said.

Participants waved union flags and held banners saying “Dublin’s Choice: Peace or Protocol?”, which bore an image of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, as well as “No Irish Sea border” and “Enough is enough”.

Others held signs saying “Prosecutions for the Bobby Storey funeral” and “Chief Constable must resign”.

A statement by Ards and North Down Loyalist Collective said: “Our platform of four high-profile speakers will send a clear message that the violence-rewarding, union-dismantling protocol must go.

“All speakers argue that, alongside being a morally repugnant mutilation of the union, the protocol is unlawful.” – Additional reporting PA