Northern Irish loyalists end support for Brexit peace deal | Brexit news
Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary groups have told UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson they are temporarily withdrawing their support for the 1998 Good Friday peace deal over concerns over the Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union.
As the groups pledged to oppose the deal “peacefully and democratically”, such a stern warning increases the pressure on Johnson, his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin and the EU over Brexit.
The 1998 peace accord, also known as the Belfast Accord, ended three decades of violence between mostly Catholic nationalists fighting for a united Ireland and mostly Protestant trade unionists or loyalists, who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK.
Loyalist paramilitaries, including the Ulster Volunteer Force, Ulster Defense Association and Red Hand Commando, have expressed concern over the disruption of trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK as a result of the deal. on Brexit.
“Loyalist groups hereby withdraw their support for the Belfast Accord,” they said in a March 3 letter to Johnson from Loyalist Communities Council chairman David Campbell, seen by the news agency Reuters.
A similar letter was sent to the Irish leader and copies were sent to the Vice-President of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic.
Paramilitary groups said they were determined that Unionist opposition to the Northern Irish protocol – which is part of the Brexit 2020 treaty – was peaceful, but added a warning.
“Please do not underestimate the strength of feelings on this issue across the trade union family,” the letter said.
“If you or the EU are not ready to honor the entire agreement, you will be responsible for the permanent destruction of the agreement,” he said.
They said they would not return to the deal until their rights were restored and the Northern Irish Protocol was amended to ensure unhindered trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
But, they said, their main disagreement was more fundamental: Britain, Ireland and the United Kingdom had in the Northern Ireland Protocol violated their commitments to the 1998 peace agreement and both communities.
The UK-EU Brexit deal establishes a tariff-free and quota-free trade in goods, but puts in place veterinary and customs controls and other previously transparent trade barriers between the two. Contentiously, it also imposes new controls on certain trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Peace in Northern Ireland
Preserving the delicate peace in Northern Ireland without allowing the United Kingdom to turn away from EU markets across the land border between the United Kingdom and Ireland, 310 miles (500 km) away, has been the one of the toughest questions in Brexit divorce negotiations.
An open Irish border has helped support the peace process based on the Good Friday Agreement, which ended decades of violence involving Irish Republicans, British loyalists and the British armed forces, in which more than 3,000 people died.
Loyalist groups gave up their armed struggle in 1998 and the residual violence since the agreement has largely been carried out by dissident nationalist groups who opposed the peace agreement.
But the new controls upset the political balance in the region, which has had problems importing a range of goods from the rest of the UK since it broke off the single market and the EU’s customs union on January 1. 2021.
Authorities in Northern Ireland temporarily halted veterinary checks and pulled border staff from ports last month after threatening graffiti appeared to refer to port workers as targets.
Northern Ireland businesses have meanwhile warned that they are struggling to cope with the new bureaucracy.
To ease the burden, the UK said on Wednesday it was unilaterally extending until October a temporary “grace period” canceling controls on agri-food products entering Northern Ireland. It was due to end on March 31.
The EU has pledged legal action in response to the ruling, which Brussels said violated the terms of the Brexit divorce deal.
The Republic of Ireland, an EU member state, said the UK was behaving inappropriately.
“For the second time in a few months, the British government has threatened to violate international law,” Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told Virgin Media television, referring to a similar unilateral move last year that London has finally abandoned.
“This is not the proper behavior of a respectable country, quite frankly.”
In an apparent attempt to calm growing tensions, Johnson said on Thursday that the latest issues surrounding Brexit and Northern Ireland could be resolved with “goodwill” and “common sense”.
He also told reporters he had not seen which Loyalist Northern Ireland paramilitary groups had said they were temporarily withdrawing their support for the 1998 peace deal over concerns over the settlement deal. Brexit.