Crowds holding aloft Union flags and banners that read “stop the protocol” and “uphold Northern Ireland’s sovereignty: Trigger Article 16” gathered in East Belfast on Friday evening. It is the latest in a number of demonstrations that have taken place in loyalist areas in Northern Ireland.
The protesters walked along Newtownards Road to the sound of loyalist band music for a short distance before hearing a number of speeches outlining opposition to the post-Brexit arrangements.
TUV leader Jim Allister and loyalist activist Moore Holmes were among the speakers at the event.
Mr Allister, the MLA for North Antrim said the gathering proved that opposition to the protocol “is not dying down”.
He described the protocol as unionists “implementing their own self-destruction”.
Mr Allister added: “If we do not kill this protocol, it will kill the union, that’s the reality.
“This is the seminal moment, the seminal challenge of our generation and we’re going to rise to it, unless we come to that realisation then this union that binds us, that gives us all we believe in will indeed be bled to death before our eyes.
“It’s up to us, it’s up to our politicians and I leave east Belfast tonight mightily encouraged to see that people are exercised on a Friday evening to come out such as this and to say as our forefathers said, ‘up with this we will not put’.”
There is significant anger among unionists and loyalists at the protocol which was agreed by the UK and EU as a way to maintain a free-flowing land border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
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Earlier this year, there was significant disorder to which loyalist anger at the protocol was linked.
It comes after Nancy Pelosi said a breakdown in the talks over the Northern Ireland Protocol would be “problematic” for a post-Brexit UK-US trade deal.
The Speaker of the US House of Representatives has been critical of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approach to Northern Ireland following Britain’s exit from the European Union.
The pair discussed the issue in Downing Street on Thursday and Ms Pelosi expanded on her views about the talks currently underway between the UK and Brussels to resolve issues surrounding the implementation of the protocol.