Jamie Bryson warns that anti-NI Protocol protestors may take to streets of Dublin
Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson says that protestors against the Northern Ireland Protocol may take their protests to the streets of Dublin.
Mr Bryson said there was no one organising group behind the idea.
“It is pretty much on the lips of everyone currently involved in protests in Northern Ireland ” he told the News Letter. “These protests are just organically organised.”
He said he had no specific knowledge of whether the Loyalist Communities Council was supporting the idea, but noted that they had been supportive of peaceful protest up until now.
No dates have been confirmed but he said it would most likely happen after July 12.
News of a possible protest in Dublin was first reported by the Irish News today.
Mr Bryson said there would be no intention to work with the southern authorities in organising such an event.
“Why would we need to? Is Dublin not fully supportive of the European Convention of Human Rights and the freedom to protest?”
“If they are going to impose instability on Northern Ireland in the form of the Protocol then we can impose instability on their country.
“We all remember then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar waving around threats of republican violence in the situation where EU customs checks would be placed on the border.
“But we are talking about a peaceful protest.”
Mr Bryson said that he would personally attend any such event in Dublin.
A recent anti-protocol protest in Belfast reportedly attracted some 3000 people.
In 2006 victims campaigner Willie Frazer led a rally in Dublin under the Banner of ‘Love Ulster’, which despite Garda support, was attacked by rioters.
Before his death in 2019, he repeatedly caused consternation with southern authorities by threatening a follow up march in protest at the failure of the southern authorities to open their security files in relation to the Kingsmills Massacre, for the benefit of the legacy inquest into the matter.
Previous attempts by the Orange Order to hold parades in Dublin have been unsuccessful and opposed by politicians.
In 2011 Dublin was subjected to an intense security operation to facilitate the visit of the Queen, an event which passed off without incident.
In recent weeks there have been a number of violent confrontations with gangs of youths and Garda on the streets in Dublin, in part reportedly against strict Covid lockdown measures.
One well placed source among anti-protocol protestors told the News Letter this afternoon that they did not think there was any such plan for a Dublin protest in place, but that nothing would be off the table at this point.
“Six months ago the idea would have been considered nuts, but not any longer,” he said.
They also accepted that the publicity surrounding the story may be something of a kite flying exercise to see what support there would be for such a venture.
The News Letter has invited comment from the Irish government.
The Garda said that - unlike Northern Ireland - no authorisation is needed for such a rally or parade, but that it is discouraging large crowds due to Covid restrictions.
“An Garda Síochána has no role in permitting or authorising protest marches or gatherings,” a spokeswoman said. “There is no permit/ authorisation required for such events.
“An Garda Síochána encourages organisations / individuals organising such events to liaise with An Garda Síochána in advance to assist in the safe and peacefully organisation of the event.”
She also noted that the Republic of Ireland Health Act 1947 and associated regulations, as they relate to Covid 19, are currently in force.
“In supporting the COVID-19 public health guidelines and regulations, An Garda Síochána has and will continue to adopt, a graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent.
“This has seen Gardaí engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce. Any Garda activity in relation to evolving events is in line with this graduated policing response taking into account public health regulations and advice.
“The COVID-19 pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to demonstrate personal and social responsibility to comply with Public Health Guidelines; to avoid crowded areas and large gatherings, take personal responsibility to protect yourself and others, wear face coverings in open spaces, and maintain social distancing. The wearing of face masks outdoors and social distancing are public health guidelines and are not penal regulations.”
The TUV appeared to give tacit support to the idea of a “peaceful” protest.
A party spokesperson said: “The TUV remains of the view that the most effective way to combat the Protocol is sustained, robust political pressure. That means that the Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots, should stop manning the Sea Border. It means the North South Ministerial Council should not be permitted to meet. It means there should be no question of Unionist MLAs again voting for legislation needed for the Protocol to operate as they have in the past.
“There is little evidence of this, however, and the lack of political action is resulting in increasing frustration within the Unionist community.
“Protest is a fundamental right in any democracy and it would be odd, having invested so much time in preventing any border on the island of Ireland, nationalists would complain about loyalists considering taking a protest to Dublin. Obviously any protest must be peaceful and within the law.”
This story will be updated as further information becomes available.
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