ECONOMY

DUP leader fears ‘further unrest’ on streets of Northern Ireland over protocol


Sir Jeffrey was speaking after warning his party’s ministers will resign from the Stormont Executive if changes to the protocol are not delivered by November.

Earlier this year, there was significant disorder with loyalist anger at the protocol forming a border in the Irish Sea blamed.

Loyalist protesters during further unrest on Lanark Way in Belfast in April (Niall Carson/PA) / PA Wire

Sir Jeffrey said he fears a return to that.

“The protocol is creating significant political instability,” he told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast.

“Earlier in the year we had people back out on the streets again.

“There was civil unrest, there was violence on the streets.

“I don’t want that to happen, I want Northern Ireland to be peaceful, prosperous, stable but I’m worried that if this protocol continues and people become more fearful about the future, then again we will see people back out on the streets, and that is not good because it has the potential for further unrest.

“We need the peace process to deliver for Northern Ireland, to deliver prosperity for everyone in Northern Ireland and right now this protocol is getting in the way of that.”

He added: “Right now the future of the union is threatened by this protocol and I hope the UK government will do the right thing and honour the commitments they have already given to resolve these issues.”

If politics fails and if we don’t find the solutions then I fear that there will be others who may decide to step into the gap

Sir Jeffrey said he has been urging all summer against violence on the streets.

“I have been saying to the boys on the streets is ‘please don’t be on the streets’, and you will note that all summer Northern Ireland has been peaceful,” he said.

“That didn’t happen by coincidence, that happened because people like me, my political colleagues and community leaders worked hard and persuaded people that politics is the way to resolve these issues, not street protests.

“But I’m simply saying that if politics fails and if we don’t find the solutions then I fear that there will be others who may decide to step into the gap.

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