UK ‘tough talk’ on Ukraine not matched with action on NI Protocol, rally hears

The meeting in Portadown is the latest in a series of events organised by unionists as part of their campaign of opposition to the protocol.

23 February 2022

The UK Government is failing to match its “tough talk” over Ukraine with meaningful action in getting rid of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a rally has been told.

TUV leader Jim Allister addressed the anti-protocol meeting at Carlton Street Orange Hall in Portadown where he said that Northern Ireland’s position as part of the UK had been “annexed” by the post-Brexit arrangement.

The meeting is the latest in a series of events organised by unionists as part of their campaign of opposition to the protocol.

Mr Allister said: “The world is rightly outraged by the Russian aggression towards Ukraine, with the United Kingdom government front and centre of the condemnation.

“Sovereignty is the core issue, the right not to be ruled by a foreign power.

“Likewise, though on a more discreet scale, sovereignty is the key issue when it comes to the iniquitous EU Protocol.

“By its pernicious processes EU sovereignty has been established over the trade and economy of Northern Ireland. GB is now regarded under the protocol as a ‘third country’ – the very epitome of our colonisation by the EU.”

Mr Allister added: “Add to that the fact that the laws which govern our trade are now foreign, not British laws, and you have the irrefutable evidence of the annexing of Northern Ireland out of our supposed position of being an integral part of the UK.

“Yet, our government still fails to stand up for the restoration of UK sovereignty over Northern Ireland.

“Tough talk over Ukraine seems easier than meaningful action over the union-dismantling protocol.

“Instead, we get endless rounds of talks with Brussels, but no action.”

The protocol prevented a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit, but is deeply unpopular with unionists because it introduced new trade barriers in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

While the EU has given concessions on its operation, notably to ease the flow of medicines, these have not satisfied many who oppose it.

Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson addressed the meeting in Portadown (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Portadown meeting was also addressed by loyalist activist Jamie Bryson who said that the time was coming when civil servants should refuse to carry out protocol checks on goods at ports.

He said: “The time may come very soon when civil servants who cherish the union must adopt the moral code, first articulated by Martin Luther King that dictates that ‘one has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws.

“Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.

“Should the unjust subjugation of the union continue at our ports, then all staff who value the union should refuse to implement the destruction of their own national identity.”

Mr Bryson continued: “There is no ‘best of both worlds’, there is no one foot in the UK and one foot in the EU.

“There is only the union, and we will accept nothing less.

“We have had enough of this one-sided ‘piece by peace’ process.

“We have had enough of 24 years of being an underclass.

“When we say enough is enough,we mean it.

“There is no longer majority unionist consent for power sharing, and nor will there ever be whilst the framework of such arrangements remains fundamentally structured in favour of nationalists.

“It is time for a collective and united unionist stand in defence of that which our forefathers fought and died to maintain.

“The time is not coming when we must stand, the time is here now.”

A minute’s silence was held at the start of the meeting in memory of DUP MLA Christopher Stalford, who died suddenly at the weekend.

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