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Hang your heads in shame, MP Simon Hoare tells trolls who targeted loyalist women

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Furious: Tory MP Simon Hoare said all forms of online abuse were unacceptable. Credit: Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

Furious: Tory MP Simon Hoare said all forms of online abuse were unacceptable. Credit: Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

Furious: Tory MP Simon Hoare said all forms of online abuse were unacceptable. Credit: Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

Social media trolls who intimidated women who gave evidence to MPs about the Protocol “should, frankly, hang their head in shame”, the chairman of the the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has said.

Simon Hoare MP told those who attacked the women online last week to “go and find a country where the rule of law, democracy and free speech are not the hallmarks that we all cherish”.

He said: “On behalf of the committee, I want to say that the intimidation, if you will, of those witnesses on social media by those who should frankly, hang their head in shame this morning, is not acceptable.”

One Shankill community worker had told MPs of all those she speaks to, none say that the Loyalist Communities Council – which has issued outspoken statements opposing the Protocol – spoke on their behalf, and emphasised that there are many different points of view among loyalists.

Other community workers added that recent violence around the Protocol had been “whipped up and designed and it was largely directed by people we refer to as paramilitaries”, and the unrest was “outright manipulation of working-class communities”.

During yesterday’s session, a retail representative told MPs the “sausage war” post-Brexit trade dispute between the UK and EU was the tip of an iceberg.

Aodhan Connolly, from the NI Retail Consortium, told told the committee: “On chilled meats, if people think that is what a trade war is, they are really going to be surprised when there is an actual [trade] war.

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"That was not a trade war, that wasn’t even a trade handbags at dawn. It is an emotive issue, but in trade terms, it is a peripheral issue.”

He added: “We are heading towards a perfect storm in October, when we will need export health certificates.”

Victor Chestnutt, director of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, described the chilled meats row as a “red herring”.

He said: “We did see some flexibilities, one on chilled meats, which I would say was a red herring.

"We are an exporting region. We can make all the sausages we need in Northern Ireland.

"Yes, the choice is good for consumers, but that was a red herring really.”


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