Belfast Telegraph

Boris Johnson visits NI: Prime Minister met with protests at Stormont

Boris Johnson has been met with several protests at the start of his first official visit to Northern Ireland as Prime Minister.

The new Tory leader arrived at Stormont on Wednesday morning for talks with the five main political parties.

Demonstrators lined the avenue leading to parliament buildings and the Edward Carson statue to protest a range of issues.

One of the largest gatherings was a crowd of Harland and Wolff workers, demanding a meeting with the Prime Minister.

Employees at the under-threat shipyard have been urging the Government to intervene to save the 130-strong workforce.

On Wednesday, the Belfast Telegraph revealed boss of a Miami-based investment firm wants to take over Harland and Wolff.

Protesters at Stormont chanted and sang as the held up banners reading "Save Our Shipyard" and "Re-nationalise Now".

Protesters gathered outside Stormont as Boris Johnson holds talks with political parties.
Protesters gathered outside Stormont as Boris Johnson holds talks with political parties.

Steel worker and employee representative Joe Passmore said the workers had decided to come to Mr Johnson, after he declined an invite to visit the shipyard on Wednesday morning.

"What we are asking Boris is nationalise our yard, we want him to help us get through this sticky period and keep this place open long enough so that eventually the orders can start flowing again and we can stand on our own two feet again," he said.

"We need that breathing space, Boris, and we need it now. Our hands are tied. Boris - untie our hands and give us a chance."

Despite calls from trade unions for the company to be renationalised, a Government spokesman has said Harland & Wolff's (H&W) predicament is "ultimately a commercial issue".

Harland and Wolff workers also spoke to the DUP and Sinn Fein delegations after their meetings with Mr Johnson.

Other protesters included delegations of legacy activists, including people representing those killed in UVF bombing of McGurks Bar in Belfast in 1971 and those killed by the British Army in Ballymurphy the same year.

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Protesters gathered outside Stormont as Boris Johnson holds talks with political parties.

Irish language activists also gathered at the site, alongside people who live along the border.

Declan Fearon from Border Communities Against Brexit said they were protesting to tell the Prime Minister that it was "nonsense" to believe that after a hard Brexit there would be no disruption to their daily lives.

"We are certainly not going to sit back and allow it to happen," he said.

"We are adamant that there can be no reinstatement of the border and the vast majority of people who live in this country want to remain in the customs union."

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Protesters included Shipyard workers, An Dream Dearg, Ballymurphy Families and Border Communities against Brexit. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

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