Angry loyalists threaten Dublin

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Loyalist paramilitaries have issued a veiled threat to the Dublin government that its Ministers “are no longer welcome” in the north of Ireland.

In a statement issued through a representative organisation, the Loyalist Communities Council, they also attacked the DUP over “recent instances of capitulation to Sinn Fein blackmail” and the lack of progress in removing new Brexit port checks.

The LCC, which is a loyalist umbrella group representing the views of the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando, said that the Dublin cabinet Ministers and officials are “no longer welcome in Northern Ireland” until they accept and repair “the damage they created”.

The comments mainly flow from anger over the Irish protocol of Brexit, which has created checks at Larne and Belfast seaports, but also the Fine Gael annual conference last weekend, at which Irish unity was discussed.

“The continued denials and insulting commentary from the Irish Government proves the extent to which they misled European leaders with regard to the views of the people of Northern Ireland, and the guarantees for both communities contained within the Belfast Agreement,” said the LCC.

Sinn Fein’s North Belfast MP John Finucane said there can be no no-go areas for government ministers north or south of the border.

“Comments from the Loyalist Community Council that Irish government ministers are not welcome in the north are disgraceful,” he said.

“The irony that loyalists are planning a demonstration in Dublin seems to be totally lost on them.

“The LCC is a group who represent armed paramilitary gangs involved in murder, extortion and drug-dealing. They should be asked to clarify these remarks.”

Spokesperson Jim Wilson of the LCC said loyalists remain angry.

“The anger’s with mostly the Irish government because the Irish government are to blame for telling those people in Europe that this [the Irish Protocol of Brexit] was the easy way out,” he said.

“And it’s not the easy way out.

“It’s hard for our communities and it’s hard for us as loyalists and unionists to accept the fact that we have now been economically tied to 26 different states [the European Union] who at their whim can do anything they like to our country.”

On Friday evening, hundreds of loyalists attended a band parade in Newtownards in County Down which served as a protest against the so-called “Irish Sea border” and other grievances.

Four marches converged on the town’s main square where there were speeches by politicians, including ultra-extremist Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister.

One of the banners on display stated: ‘Dublin’s Choice: Peace or Protocol.’

As in other recent loyalist protest marches, the event was without the approval of the Parades Commission, and was therefore illegal.

It comes as some loyalists spoke of holding a mass protest in Dublin next month with vows of ‘bringing instability’ to the capital city.

In 2006 a ‘Love Ulster’ rally through Dublin was abandoned after rioting broke out following clashes between local youths and gardaí, leading to 14 arrests and 41 injuries.

Earlier this week loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson said a protest in Dublin would “send a message” and did not rule out loyalist violence at the protest.

“Maybe that will make the Irish government realise that if they are intent on imposing instability within Northern Ireland, then instability will be brought to their country via peaceful protests,” he said.

He added that “any discussions I’ve been privy to have quite rightly focused solely on peaceful protest” but that “there might well be others having different conversations I am not aware of”.

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