Northern Ireland: Threat of violence discussed by sociologist
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Boris Johnson has been warned that post-Brexit tensions in Northern Ireland may lead to protests over customs arrangements turning violent. The German outlet DW News interviewed sociologist Katy Hayward about the risk of opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol turning more extreme. She explained that from some groups in Northern Ireland ‘violence expresses how serious you are.’ It comes as a Loyalist campaigner opposed to the Irish sea border warned that the use of violence could not be ruled out.
Loyalist Communities Council member Joel Keys told DW News “Sometimes violence is the thing that you have to do.”
“I’m not saying that we have to do it, I am not saying that we will have to do it.
“I am just saying to ask me to take it off the table, ask me to categorically rule it out especially when our political opponents have made it very clear they are not going to take it off the table.
“It is an unreasonable request.”
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It comes as Katy Howard a sociologist at Queen’s University Belfast warned Northern Irland’s peaceful protests could “escalate.”
Ms Howard told DW News: “There are some people who think that violence in various forms expresses how serious you are.
“I know that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland do not want to see anything like that.
“But it doesn’t take too many people to create a situation in which peaceful protest can escalate into something violent.”
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It comes as Marcus Fysh MP warned the Northern Ireland protocol “runs contrary to the aims” of the Good Friday Agreement.
He told Express.co.uk: “I think it would be wise for all parties to work hard to try to find ways of superseding the protocol, or at least the way the protocol currently operates to make it acceptable.
“And clearly, it isn’t acceptable that the clear message we are getting from the way it’s operating from many on the ground there in Northern Ireland is that it runs contrary to the aims of the Belfast agreement and so that needs to be sorted out.
“And I do hope that they will work positively towards that over the next few months, during various periods.
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“However, when talking about bans on GB products, and realignment of supply chains, it does not make me think that they are entering into such a period.
“With that end in mind, they are looking to make trouble.”
In a statement, Brexit minister Lord David Frost said: “Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and its consumers should be able to enjoy products they have bought from Great Britain for years. This is a very clear sign that the Protocol has to be operated in a pragmatic and proportionate way.
“The chilled meats issue is only one of a very large number of problems with the way the Protocol is currently operating, and solutions need to be found with the EU to ensure it delivers on its original aims: to protect the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, and protect the EU’s single market for goods. We look to work energetically with the EU to do so.”
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