Brexit deal: Northern Ireland loyalist groups consider response to PM’s ‘awful betrayal’

One senior source said the discussions had not been organised by one specific group but had involved loyalists from all backgrounds.

The source continued: “Civil disobedience on a large scale has been discussed, as well as a large rally.

“It is anticipated a public meeting will be called next week, inviting all loyalists to attend to make plans to resist Boris Johnson’s deal.”

With claims of “sell-out” and “betrayal” – they are not mincing their words in the unionist heartlands of Belfast.

Not for the first time, the most loyal subjects of the Queen are the most vocal critics of her government.

Frank Woodside, who runs a bicycle shop on Shankill Road, says people feel Prime Minister Boris Johnson has “sacrificed” Northern Ireland.

“They don’t want to be separated from Great Britain and the way they see it is it’s just the thin end of the wedge. Boris Johnson sold us out,” he added.

The DUP lauded Boris Johnson at their annual conference last year. He assured them there would be no border in the Irish Sea.

“No British Conservative government could or should sign up to any such arrangement,” he said.

Blogger Jamie Bryson, who’s close to the thinking of loyalist paramilitaries, says the prime minister has played into the IRA’s hands.

He said: “The IRA couldn’t bomb the unionist community out of the United Kingdom, couldn’t divide Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom with 30 years of terrorism.

“The British prime minister, in this awful betrayal, has essentially delivered an economic United Ireland with one fell swoop.”

One iconic speech defined the DUP. Their founder, the Rev Ian Paisley, blasted the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement with the words: “Never, never, never.”

Thirty-four years later, the party found itself holding the balance of power and although sceptical of Theresa May, it dared to trust Boris Johnson.

The majority in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union but the largest unionist party had campaigned to leave.

Allison Morris, a journalist at the Irish News in Belfast, said: “I think Brexit was never good for the union. I’ve never understood why the DUP were so in favour of it.

“It was always going to mean a unique set of circumstances for Northern Ireland because regardless of how many times the DUP say it, we’re not the same. We’re a place apart.”

It was a never a conventional partnership – the DUP oppose same-sex marriage and abortion but agreed with the Tories on the union, until now.

It is not that they won’t say “yes” to Boris Johnson’s deal, it’s that they can’t because they regard it as a threat to Northern Ireland’s place in the UK and that’s their raison d’etre.

Watch Brexit Special on Sky News at 7pm tonight from Westminster.

2019-10-19T15:28:13+01:00By |

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