A Belfast man whose mother was killed in a UVF bomb has said loyalist paramilitaries' withdrawal of support for the Good Friday Agreement until the Irish Sea border is removed is "a veiled threat" which makes him worried for young loyalist people.
Jude Whyte appealed to parents in the loyalist community to "keep their children close" to protect them from acting after the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) and its chairman David Campbell sent a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
They claimed the basis on which loyalist paramilitaries committed to end violence in 1994 had been undermined by the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The protocol means Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market for goods as a result of Irish Sea border arrangements, so products from Great Britain undergo EU import procedures. Unionists have spoken out against it and said it damages trade and threatens Northern Ireland's place in the UK.
Mr Whyte's mother Peggy was murdered at the age of 52 along with 22-year-old RUC officer Michael Dawson in April 1984 in a UVF bomb left in front of her home in south Belfast.
Having lost a relative and witnessed the murder of hundreds of Catholic civilians by the same organisation, Mr Whyte said the result is young working class loyalist men were sent to jail for years because of their crimes. He accused the LCC, an umbrella organisation representing the views of groups including the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando, of having used "ill thought-out words" in their letter to Mr Johnson where they called on him to trigger Article 16.
"History has taught us that violence doesn't get you places, it's the threat of violence. In the context of this protocol and the Good Friday Agreement, there's no place for it," he said. "The first thing they should have said in this statement was that there is no place for violence within this protest. Then they have every right as citizens in a modern liberal democracy to protest any way they want. It has to be made clear that violence is not a part of this."
Speaking to young people in the loyalist community, he said: "Don't fall into this trap of violent behaviour for which you will carry the consequences of for the rest of your life. My appeal is for parents to keep their children close to their homes and their hearts because these are emotive words.
"These criminal records follow young people forever, limiting their travel to the United States and Australia, limiting their ability to get a taxi driver's licence. There has to be a clear and unequivocal statement from the leaders of unionism and loyalism and in particular the spokespeople for those groups that violence has no part to play in whatever protest they feel appropriate," he said.
"Young people will go to jail and they'll be there for 20 years and their comm unities will desert them and the only people that will pay the price are the families."