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Not worth a criminal record, says UUP's Aiken as loyalist tensions rise over Irish Sea border

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UUP leader Steve Aiken (Liam McBurney/PA)

UUP leader Steve Aiken (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

UUP leader Steve Aiken (Liam McBurney/PA)

UUP leader Steve Aiken has appealed for calm amid rising loyalist tensions over the Irish Sea border.

The former Royal Navy commander said it wasn't worth getting a criminal record by engaging in civil disobedience or violence in response to the Brexit settlement.

Mr Aiken said he believed the way forward was to find a legal solution to relax the pressures being caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Alliance Party blamed rising tensions over the Brexit issues for a hoax bomb alert at party leader Naomi Long's Belfast constituency office on Thursday. Graffiti has also appeared in Larne threatening border post staff.

The Irish Sea border has led to multiple issues with products moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

A number of major companies have stopped sending goods to Northern Ireland as result.

On Friday it emerged the protocol could hinder the movement of military equipment into Northern Ireland.

"I do feel very angry about what was done and as somebody who's served in the armed forces and served in the Royal Navy for over 30 odd years I don't feel any less British," Mr Aiken told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme.

The South Antrim MLA said he had one message for those angered about the protocol: "This is Boris Johnson's mess, don't judge us all by Boris Johnson."

Mr Aiken accepted that some within the unionist community had "real concerns" and had shown "real anger".

"I've said this in the past and I'll say it again. Do not put yourself in the position where you're going to get a criminal record just for the sake of Boris Johnson and his Irish Sea border," he said.

"It's not worth it and it's not worth it because of what they've done. He's not going to be here forever and I think the way round this is to get derogation through and to get them through as quickly as possible.

"I understand more than anybody the frustration and anger that is out there but I do not want anybody to end up getting a criminal record or worse."

Belfast Telegraph


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