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Northern Ireland Protocol could see Stormont collapse, says loyalist group chair

David Campbell backing DUP five-point plan


David Campbell

David Campbell

David Campbell

The chair of the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) believes the Northern Ireland Protocol could lead to the collapse of the political institutions here.

David Campbell, who is a former chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party, said it was up to politicians to act and backed the DUP’s five-point plan to oppose the protocol.

The LCC is an umbrella organisation representing loyalist groups including the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando.

Mr Campbell told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show that people are “astonished” at the outworking of the protocol, which was part of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The protocol sees physical inspections on goods entering the region from Great Britain, creating a de facto Irish Sea border - something which has angered unionists.

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“People are astonished at the outworking of this protocol and it has to be changed,” stated Mr Campbell.

“I think we will see a complete breakdown probably in our political institutions in Northern Ireland. I think but for Covid, there is a responsible attitude being taken generally.

“But speaking as someone who came through the political process over the past 20 years, in order to ensure that there isn't overt demonstrations on the streets, it’s up to our politicians to act.

“The DUP I think have started wisely with the north-south arrangements. It’s what David Trimble and ourselves did 15 odd years ago when we needed to apply pressure.

“It can be effective but the primary responsibility lies now with Boris Johnson and the European Commission to rectify the mistakes that have been made.”

Mr Campbell stressed that loyalist groups should not physically fight over the protocol as it has to be a “political fight” and one based on common sense.

“Having to power wash tractors or agricultural machinery to ensure there isn't a speck of soil from Scotland, Wales or England on them coming over to Northern Ireland is absolutely ludicrous,” he continued.

“It is an example of why so many people voted to leave the European Union. This is the type of inclusive detail and inclusive action that they have been famous for for the past 30 years.”

The LCC has been in extensive contact with paramilitary groups over recent weeks appealing for calm, and Mr Campbell added that it is his hope that they “maintain that discipline”.

“Not withstanding of course, the general free principle in any free democratic society, peaceful protest is a key tenant of that freedom,” he said.

“Even peaceful protest I suspect has been set aside because of Covid but one goes into very dangerous territory if you try to restrict peaceful protest in any situation.”

He added that the footage of the group of masked men in east Belfast was nothing to do with the protocol and the current political situation.

It is understood the incident was linked to an internal row within the UVF and the police presence prevented an attack on a home.

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