Northern Ireland Protocol protest in Portadown tonight to hear call for Irish Sea border staff to strike

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Calls will be made tonight at the latest anti-Protocol rally in Portadown for civil servants from unionist backgrounds tasked with implementing EU border checks at Northern Ireland ports to down tools.

During the rally at Carlton Street Orange Hall later this evening workers who either directly carry out checks or administer the Protocol system will be urged to effectively go on strike against the post-Brexit deal.

Staff involved in the EU vetting of goods coming from Britain into Northern Ireland will be told they have “a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws”.

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The meeting will hear that staff who “value the Union should refuse to implement the destruction of their own national identity.”

TUV Leader Jim AllisterTUV Leader Jim Allister
TUV Leader Jim Allister

The demonstration at the Orange Hall will also hear speeches from Traditional Voice leader Jim Allister, Jamie Byrson, Moore Holmes, Ulster Unionist councillor Jill McCauley and TUV Upper Bann candidate Darrin Foster. It will be chaired by Independent Unionist councillor Paul Berry.

A minute’s silence will be observed to remember Christopher Stalford before the event.

In his speech Jim Allister will draw parallels between the violation of Ukraine sovereignty by Vladimir Putin and what the TUV will label as “the pernicious processes” by which the EU exercises sovereignty over Northern Ireland.

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Mr Allister will describe the Customs Checks brought about by the Northern Ireland Protocol as “the very epitome of our colonisation by the EU.”

Referring to the UK’s “tough talk over Ukraine,” the TUV leader will say “Yet, our government still fails to stand up for the restoration of UK sovereignty over Northern Ireland. Instead, we get endless rounds of talks with Brussels, but no action.”

Participants in tonight’s protest deny that the DUP’s absence from the platform was a snub to the largest unionist party.

A similar anti-Protocol rally scheduled for this Friday in Crossgar was cancelled as a mark of respect for Christopher Stalford and his family. The funeral of the DUP MLA and principal deputy speaker at Stormont will take place on Saturday at 2pm. The funeral service will be held at Ravenhill Presbyterian, which the DUP said will be open to all.

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Further demonstrations against the Protocol are to be held next month in Lurgan and Ballymoney while the Crossgar rally will take place on Friday 11th March.

The first major anti-Protocol protest of this year took place in Markethill last Friday when thousands defied the freezing and wet conditions to attend the demonstration in the Co.Armagh village.