Wave of Brexit-related rioting hits Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Protocol seen as cause of Loyalist-led riots.
Alamy

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

09 Apr 2021

US President Joe Biden has urged all parties to ensure the Good Friday Agreement “doesn’t become a casualty of Brexit,” in the wake of continued violence in Northern Ireland.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price added in a statement, “As the United Kingdom and the EU implement Brexit-related provisions, this administration encourages them to prioritise political and economic stability in Northern Ireland.”

On Thursday, a bus was hijacked and set on fire near the Shankill Road in Belfast, rocks were thrown at police and a journalist was assaulted.

The main bone of contention in loyalist communities is the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is included in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to prevent the return of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Northern Irish Unionist leaders have continued to hit out at the protocol since it was introduced at the start of the year, with many calling for it to be scrapped altogether.

"We need to ensure that political leaders take on the responsibility to ensure we don’t allow Northern Ireland to get dragged back into this kind of aggression. The British Government has also got to do their part though and acting unilaterally to change the implementation of the protocol doesn’t help that either” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to convene urgent cross-party talks on the situation following several nights of violent rioting.

Elsewhere, the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said Northern Ireland, “quite frankly, has had enough of this kind of violence”.

Coveney said, “We need to ensure that political leaders take on the responsibility to ensure we don’t allow Northern Ireland to get dragged back into this kind of aggression.”

“The British Government has also got to do their part though and acting unilaterally to change the implementation of the protocol doesn’t help that either.”

“So, what needs to happen now is that the structures that have been put in place to deal with the implementation of the protocol need to work to the full extent possible. That needs to happen.”

In an interview with the Guardian’s Politics Weekly podcast, the EU ambassador to the UK João Vale de Almeida said he understood the “sensitivities” and the “delicate and volatile situation in Northern Ireland”, which he visited last year.

Meanwhile, the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has called on the UK government to provide it with more information on the EU divorce deal.

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