New loyalist group calls for immediate protests and threatens to campaign against DUP and UUP
A new loyalist group which claims that its members were behind many of the anti-Irish Sea border posters which have appeared across Northern Ireland has threatened to campaign against the DUP and UUP.
The ‘United Unionists of Ulster’ (UUU) issued a statement in February which claimed responsibility for many of the posters and claimed that some of them were being funded by businessmen whose companies were financially suffering from the new trade frontier.
At that time, the group insisted to the News Letter that it was not linked to paramilitaries, but it appealed to the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) – the umbrella group of loyalist terrorist organisations – to take unspecified action.
A fortnight later, the LCC said that it was withdrawing its support for the Belfast Agreement.
In a statement given to the News Letter yesterday, the UUU called for an end to devolution and said that “if Stormont doesn’t collapse then we will resort to political lobbying against the DUP and UUP at next year’s elections”.
Despite the period of national mourning for Prince Philip, the group said it was organising protests for tomorrow night, saying that “the fight against the Northern Ireland protocol must continue”.
The call to protest will be a moment of truth – either large numbers will show that the group has significant support, or it will be clear that it is just a handful of individuals.
The UUU called for “every unionist to be involved in peaceful protesting” but said there should be no protests on Saturday, the day of the funeral.
The author and historian Aaron Edwards, an expert in loyalism, said that he knew nothing about the group and that people should “question the veracity of information we find online”, especially when the individuals involved are not named.
Dr Edwards, the author of ‘UVF: Behind The Mask’ and other books, said: “I can say that I’m detecting strains within mainstream loyalist paramilitary organisations. We are seeing the fragmentation of those old loyalist paramilitary groups.
“There are two things to realise in understanding what’s going on here. Firstly, we should look at this as a new form of dissident loyalism.
“Secondly, look at the nature of this challenge – to me it feels like a loose network within loyalism. That is new and potentially dangerous at a volatile time.”
A loyalist source not associated with the UUU said they did not believe that the group had links to loyalist paramilitaries but said that paramilitiraes are likely to be involved in organising a spate of protests next week after the royal funeral.
At the time of going to press, the DUP and UUP had not responded to a request for comment on the group’s statement.
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