Unionist ‘in-fighting’ continues after Markethill protest against Northern Ireland Protocol

Sammy Wilson has accused the TUV leader Jim Allister of “whipping up an anti-DUP sentiment”.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 21st February 2022, 7:48 am
Updated Monday, 21st February 2022, 1:08 pm

The DUP East Antrim MP, who was booed at an anti-NI Protocol rally in Markethill on Friday night, said that some in loyalism are intent on “manufacturing disunity where none exists”, and that it undermined the message of the rally.

“Whilst Jim Allister appealed for respect, it came after he spent 10 minutes on the platform whipping up an anti-DUP sentiment in a blatant act of electioneering,” Mr Wilson said.

“Whilst Sir Jeffrey has sought to work with every hue of unionism, whether he always agrees with them or not, to get a united front and common cause against the protocol, it seems Jim is only interested in using the protocol to promote his and his party’s narrow electoral interests. Unionism is ill-served at this time by such division.

Sammy Wilson at the Markethill protest

“Regardless of how some may try to hijack opposition to the protocol, the DUP will focus on harnessing all unionist energies to ensure the protocol is removed.

“Does Jim want a united opposition to the protocol or not? Does he see these rallies as an opportunity to present a united front or simply to attack others sharing the platform with him?”

Responding to Mr Wilson’s comments, the TUV leader said his party is “not responsible” for the public perception of the DUP on Brexit issues.

“If Sammy Wilson thinks unwarranted personal attacks on me helps his party’s cause, that is a matter for him and the DUP,” Mr Allister said in a statement.

“How such helps the stance against the protocol is difficult to discern.

“TUV is not responsible for the public perception of DUP’s protocol stance, especially after foolish talk about ‘the best of both worlds’. The public has no problem understanding TUV’s unwavering stand against the Union-dismantling protocol.”

Meanwhile, loyalist activist Jamie Bryson, speaking ahead of another anti-protocol event in Portadown on Wednesday, said: “It is disappointing that the fantastic turnout in Markethill for the excellent protest organised by local loyalists has not got the attention it deserves. Rather media focus has been on unionist in-fighting.

“The real story is that on one of the worst [weather] nights of the year, thousands of grassroots unionists and loyalists turned out to protest against the continued imposition of the NI Protocol, with excellent contributions by a range of speakers.”