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Sunday Life

Protest against Irish Sea border held at Port of Belfast

Small group carrying Union flags and anti-EU placards gathered near the gates of the docks at Sailortown.

A SMALL protest against the Irish Sea border and the Northern Ireland Protocol was held at the main entrance to the Port of Belfast on Saturday.

Around half a dozen people carrying Union flags and anti-EU placards gathered near the gates of the docks in the Sailortown area of the city.

Ex-TUV and independent unionist councillor Jolene Bunting was among those in attendance.

Officers from the Harbour Police and the PSNI were present for the demonstration which passed off without incident.

It happened shortly before Irish premier Micheal Martin called on the British government to "reciprocate the generosity of spirit" shown by EU leaders on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Martin spoke out after UK cabinet ministers ramped up pressure for concessions on the Protocol by warning of disruption to peace if changes are not made.

He said the EU had demonstrated "goodwill and generosity" to the UK, with the extension to the grace period allowing chilled meats to be sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland this week.

"I think the British Government should acknowledge the approach of the European Union this week in terms of the extension of the grace period and also in terms of the facilitation around the medicines issue,” said Mr Martin.

"There is no question that the European Commission and the European Union leaders have demonstrated goodwill and a generosity of spirit towards the British Government in resolving this issue.

"It really is time for British government to reciprocate the generosity of spirit that European leaders have shown.

"And also the sense of flexibility that Europe has indicated to the United Kingdom that it is willing to deploy, in respect of the working-out of issues pertaining to the Protocol.

"The time for warning each other is over. It's time for engagement, constructive engagement, with a view to reaching a resolution."

Last week the EU announced a number of solutions to ease the implementation of the Protocol.

As well as extending the grace period on chilled meats, it changed its own rules to allow medicines to continue to flow from the UK into Northern Ireland and waived the obligation to show the motor insurance Green Card for drivers from the UK.

Unionists - who have demonstrated against the UK-EU treaty in recent months - have complained the terms of the Protocol are splitting Northern Ireland from Great Britain and hitting the pockets of businesses, with suppliers either giving up exporting across the Irish Sea or facing added checks and costs to do so.

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