Belfast Telegraph

Brexit: Loyalists who hype threat of violence foolish and misguided, says PUP councillor

Kyle says an aggressive backlash to ‘sell-out’ would be major own-goal

Dr John Kyle
Dr John Kyle
Jamie Bryson
Jim Wilson

By Gillian Halliday

Loyalists who "talk up" the threat of violence amid the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit are "very misguided, wrong and foolish", a Progressive Unionist Party councillor has warned.

Dr John Kyle last night insisted a return of loyalist violence would be "entirely counterproductive and damaging to the interests of Northern Ireland within the UK".

Acknowledging the loyalist community feels "betrayed" by the current British political Establishment, the east Belfast PUP politician said the history of Northern Ireland had shown that physical violence had never worked.

"And to think that loyalist violence can solve anything is frankly wrong and is a very dangerous idea to promote," said Dr Kyle.

His comments come as prominent loyalist figures have expressed disquiet over the Prime Minister's "sell-out" of the DUP to clinch a Brexit deal with the EU before the October 31 deadline.

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson told the Belfast Telegraph feelings of anger were growing due to the latest Brexit developments.

"There's many people within the unionist/loyalist community see that for the last three years, nationalism - including the Irish Government - has talked up the potential threat to peace that could emanate from republicans," he said.

"And it seems to many within the loyalist community that that has been rewarded with concessions.

"One of the main reasons we were told there can be no border on the island of Ireland is because dissident republicans may attack it, but yet there's been no consideration given to the loyalist community on how people may react to a border down the Irish Sea.

"There's quite a clear momentum across the loyalist/unionist community that no one is going to tolerate an economic united Ireland."

Asked if the tension would spill into violence, Mr Bryson said: "I don't think anyone in loyalism wants to see violence. But obviously there's a lot of anger at the minute."

East Belfast loyalist community worker Jim Wilson also warned at the weekend that the threat posed by dissident republicans sparked by the prospect of a 'hard border' had stirred up feelings of resentment within loyalism.

"If the threats of violence from one side achieve something, do you not think the other side will turn around and say: 'Well the only way that we're going to get a decision for us is to bring violence to the streets'," he told ITV news.

"That's what the problem is. We're trying to avoid violence in this country and what happens is republicans come out and threaten violence and then they get what they want." Mr Wilson continued: "We're a lost cause at the minute.

"The DUP's been dumped on by Boris Johnson, the loyalist people have been dumped on, and specifically the unionist people and we're British.

"The British people have been dumped on by Boris Johnson."

However, Dr Kyle said it was "simplistic" to blame dissident republicanism for the escalation of tension within loyalism.

"I think there is this myth going around that we're in the situation that we are in because of threats of republican violence. I think that is simplistic, I think it is misguided, and I think it is wrong," he said.

"The threats of republican violence have nothing to do with the situation that we are in. It all has to do with Brexit and with the efforts of the European Union to ensure Brexit does not undermine their customs union and single market."

He continued: "I think loyalists are very unsettled, I think there is a lot of anxiety and anger. They do feel they have been betrayed by Boris... but there is no simple answer (to Brexit) that will satisfy everyone.

"I think some loyalists are taking up the threat of loyalist violence and I think they are very misguided, I think they are wrong and very foolish to do it. Loyalist violence would entirely counterproductive and damaging to the interests of Northern Ireland within the UK."

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