Latest in series of anti-protocol rallies set for Co Down

The latest in a series of mass rallies to protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol is due to take place at an Orange hall in Co Down tomorrow night.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 6:31 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2022, 6:36 pm

Prominent Brexit campaigners Ben Habib and Kate Hoey are expected to speak at the event, with DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, TUV leader Jim Allister and the UUP Assembly candidate Jill McCauley also expected to address those in attendance.

The event, which is described by organisers Lecale District lodge No2 as a “major rally”, is due to take place at 7.30pm at the Orange hall in Crossgar.

It had originally been due to take place on February 25 but was postponed following the sudden death of DUP MLA Christopher Stalford.

Protestors pictured at an anti-protocol rally in Newtownards. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

It follows a thousands-strong outdoor rally in Markethill last month, with another protest at Carleton Street Orange Hall in Portdown just days later, and comes ahead of further rallies due to take place in Ballymoney on March 25, Lurgan on April 8, Castlederg on April 21 and Newbuildings on April 23.

Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson, speaking to the News Letter, welcomed the fact that representatives of all three of the DUP, UUP and TUV are expected to participate.

“I would encourage people to attend,” he said.

“There are four similar events coming up afterwards so it’s great to see these events being organised and the breadth of political unionism being represented on the stage.”

He continued: “It is good to see that unity, and I think there needs to be a clear message on the Protocol from unionism collectively.

“That should be grounded in the joint-unionist anti-Protocol declaration.”

The joint unionist declaration, published in September last year in opposition to the post-Brexit trading arrangement known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, was signed by the leaders of the DUP, UUP, TUV and PUP — Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Doug Beattie, Jim Allister and Billy Hutchinson.

It set out the “unalterable position that the Protocol must be rejected and replaced”.

Mr Byrson added: “In that respect, we need the UUP to be very clear on where they stand because there is a slight suspicion they might be backsliding slightly. I hope that they will make very clear that they will, in fact, stand behind the joint declaration which means there can be no talk of ‘best of both worlds’ in the Protocol.”

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