Jamie Bryson: If you plan to protest tonight beware of sinister forces

Loyalist blogger and activist Jamie Bryson has stressed that any protests taking place tonight must be peaceful – and urged people to shun “sinister” anonymous calls for trouble.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 7:55 am
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 11:10 am

He was speaking amid rumours of demonstrations set for this evening, as unionist disaffection with the NI Brexit Protocol and with the leadership of the Province’s police and prosecution services continues to smoulder.

Yesterday the News Letter reported on a digital flyer which had been circulating around the internet, bearing pictures of rioting and summoning loyalists to “the top of Jervis Street” in Portadown at 7pm today.

DUP councillor for the area Darryn Causby said that his inquiries in the community had not managed to unearth who was actually behind the flyer, and he voiced suspicions about their motives.

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PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/4/2021: A man films a line PSNI landrovers that were keeping Nationalist and Loyalist rioters apart on the Springfield Road, Belfast on Wednesday night after they had clashed t the Lanark Way interface. Loyalists had blocked traffic during a protest which then erupted into a riot. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

He told the News Letter that he suspected it to be the work of out-of-town elements, and stressed that people must not heed calls for lawlessness.

It also comes after band parades on Monday night in Markethill, Portadown and Ballymena – with violence flaring at the latter location.

Mr Bryson told the News Letter: “If the unionist and loyalist community are going to show their frustration and anger by peaceful protests in the form of pop-up parades I think that’s much prefereable to violence.

“I think it’s absolutely a more positive way of showing our discontent with what’s going on, and I would like to appeal to young loyalists and say I do think there are sinister elements who are using anonymous social media pages and circulating fake messages, trying to draw young loyalists into violence around interfaces.

“A consequence of that is it actually undermines the actual legitimacy of the cause – which is best articulated by peaceful protest only.

“I’d say very clearly to young loyalists not to engage with anonymous social media pages, not to take the lead from anonymous social media pages, and if they are going to become involved in peaceful protest be sure they know who’s organising it, who they’re going there with, and aren’t drawn into engaging in disorder or violence.”

Mr Causby told the News Letter he respects the rule of law but that the trio of un-notified (and therefore unlawful) parades on Monday had acted as a “pressure valve” for loyalist discontent.

But when it comes to upcoming parades he urged would-be protestors “to be aware that there are faceless individuals sitting at home, asking people to do things that they will not do”.

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