Organisers of planned mass protest against NI protocol ‘must engage with PSNI’

UUP leader Doug Beattie has called for those planning a protest on the NI protocol in Portadown on June 5 to ensure they “engage with the PSNI”.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 7:20 pm

News of the protest has been delivered on social media, which is in tandem with other protests against the ‘NI protocol and two-tier policing’ which have been arranged around NI.

The post promoting the Portadown protest comes from a group calling itself the ‘unionist and loyalist unified coalition’.

The protest is organised for 3pm on June 5 - which is hours earlier than other protest marches.

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When asked about the protest Mr Beattie said: “Everybody has the right to peaceful protest and recent protests in Portadown have been peaceful and this one needs to be peaceful also.

“They have the right to protest and they need to make sure that they do what everybody does and that is make sure they are safe, make sure they are adhering to the Covid-19 regulations and make sure they engage with the police even for their own safety.

“And when I say their own safety I mean there is nothing worse than holding a protest on the street and having a car come around the corner into them.

“But let’s be clear and I will say this to anybody, everyone is allowed in our democracy to peacefully protest and that is the way you raise awareness of issues and this is what I see this as being done here if I look at other protests in Portadown.

“But it is really important that organisers engage with the police and adhere to the Covid regulations.”

According to social media another protest against the NI protocol is being arranged for 7pm in Queens Park, Glengormley on May 27.

It is delivered in the post as a ‘massed band parade’ against the ‘NI protocol and two tier policing’.

The ad from the ‘unionist and loyalist unified coalition’ questions whether potential attendees to the protest have had enough of political and policing failure?

It encourages those interested to add their voices to the ‘groundswell of opinion and join us to protest against the NI protocol, two tier policing and two tier justice’.

The protest is organised for 3pm on June 5 - which is hours earlier than other protest marches throughout NI.

Another protest has been arranged, according to social media posts, for 7pm in Queens Park, Glengormley on May 27.

It is delivered in the post as a ‘massed band parade’ against the ‘NI protocol and two tier policing’.

News of the Portadown protest comes after European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that recent tensions felt in Northern Ireland are not a result of the protocol introduced after the UK left the EU but rather Brexit itself.

She was speaking following the first day of the EU Council – the first such meeting since the introduction of the EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement at the beginning of May.

Mrs von der Leyen said: “The beginnings are not easy, tensions are being felt around the access, for example, of EU fishing boats, or tensions are without any doubt there around the implementation of the protocol of Northern Ireland.”

A new raft of checks on goods at the ports of Belfast and Larne under the terms of the protocol have sparked anger among unionists and loyalists who feel Northern Ireland is being separated from the rest of the UK.

While talks are continuing between the EU and the UK Government to solve some of the issues linked to the protocol, both the outgoing DUP leader Arlene Foster and her incoming successor Edwin Poots have insisted it must be scrapped.

But Mrs von der Leyen said this would not happen, adding: “There should be no doubt that there is no alternative to the full and correct implementation of the protocol.

“And I think it is important to reiterate that the protocol is the only possible solution to ensure peace and stability in Northern Ireland while protecting the integrity of the European Union’s single market.

“If we see problems today we should not forget that they do not come from the protocol but they result from Brexit. That is the reason why the problems are there.

“Now, it’s our common duty with the United Kingdom to do whatever we can to reduce tensions in Northern Ireland and that is why we are exploring practical solutions to help to minimise the disruptions to the everyday life in Northern Ireland.”

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