Belfast Telegraph

Brexit: We won’t tolerate economic united Ireland, loyalist meeting is told

Loyalists arrive for a meeting last night at The Con Club in east Belfast to discuss Brexit
Loyalists arrive for a meeting last night at The Con Club in east Belfast to discuss Brexit
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Loyalists "won't walk meekly and quietly into an economic united Ireland", it was warned last night.

That was the message after hundreds of loyalists and unionists turned out in east Belfast last night in united opposition over the Government's Brexit deal.

The meeting at the Con Club on the Upper Newtownards Road was attended by a broad spectrum of unionism.

Spokesman and loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson said the message from it was clear and simple.

"The unionist and loyalist people have had enough of this one-sided peace process. They are not going to tolerate an economically united Ireland," he said.

"The anger is immense. I can't think of a section of unionism or loyalism which wasn't represented here tonight. This was the people speaking. They have said they are fed up. They can take that message back to Boris Johnson.

"For three years Leo Varadkar and the Irish Government said, 'There can't be a border on the island of Ireland where there will be a threat to peace, but it's OK, we'll shaft the loyalists and put a border in the Irish Sea'.

"They are entering very dangerous territory at this point in time."

Mr Bryson said the message to the DUP is "to stand firm".

"They will have heard the anger tonight," he added.

Mr Bryson said that while no-one was threatening violence "it was good enough for the IRA, good enough for nationalism to win concessions and drive us into an economic united Ireland".

"Tonight was about taking the temperature and it's sky high," he said. He added that the Government had "set a power-keg precedent and the only way to think about that is to take the 'Betrayal Act' off the table".

Senior loyalist figures were among those attending, including Dee Stitt, who refused to comment. DUP councillor George Dorrian also attended the meeting, which lasted almost two hours.

Earlier, the chairman of the umbrella group, the Loyalist Communities Council, and former UUP chairman, David Campbell urged calm.

"The main loyalist groups have been closely following events at Westminster and in Europe," said.

"Over the past two years we have been appalled at the dishonest misrepresentation of the Belfast Agreement by the Irish Government, the pan-nationalist front, and the European Union.

"Loyalists and unionists backed the 1998 Agreement partly due to the principle of consent being a core protection for Northern Ireland's position in the United Kingdom, and the cross-community voting mechanism which gave protection to both communities.

"This deal drives a cart and horse through both these core principles and the acquiescence of those who claimed to be interested in protecting the agreement smacks of gross hypocrisy.

"I, and I believe the unionist and loyalist community at large, firmly support our MPs in opposing this deal and would urge all mainland unionist MPs to also vote it down.

"I urge all grassroots loyalists to remain calm, and hope that HM Government and the EU will revisit their hypocrisy and produce an amended deal that respects the integrity of the Belfast Agreement and maintains Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom."

Belfast Telegraph


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