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Johnson condemned for 'total disinterest' in Northern Ireland amid loyalist violence

The UK PM was accused of contributing to the toxic environment through “mistruths” regarding Brexit regulations.

PSNI tactical support officers in attendance at the Loyalist Nelson Drive Estate in Derry.
PSNI tactical support officers in attendance at the Loyalist Nelson Drive Estate in Derry.
Image: Liam McBurney

UK PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson is being accused of showing a “total disinterest” in Northern Ireland amid several consecutive nights of violence by loyalist protesters that has left dozens of police officers injured.

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader Colum Eastwood called for leadership from across the political spectrum but said Johnson’s silence was particularly galling.

He accused the Conservative of significantly contributing to the toxic environment in Northern Ireland through “mistruths” regarding Brexit regulations.

“41 police officers have been injured in seven consecutive nights of violence. If this was happening in Durham or Leeds, there would be COBRA meetings, emergency resource allocations and senior politicians would be tripping over themselves to get involved,” Eastwood said.

But when it’s Derry or Newtownabbey, the British Government appears happy to ignore it.

“The silence of Boris Johnson, in particular, is galling. The British Prime Minister’s policy of lying about the impact of economic and regulatory borders in Northern Ireland has contributed, in a significant way, to the toxic political environment that has created space for young people in working class communities to be manipulated by paramilitary groups,” he said.

NI-22 Bins are set ablaze at the Cloughfern roundabout in Newtownabbey. Source: Liam McBurney/PA

Loyalist communities, in particular, clearly feel an immense sense of betrayal. The least Johnson can do is address those concerns.

Tensions have soared within the loyalist community in recent months over post-Brexit trading arrangements, which it is claimed have created barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Anger ramped up further last week following a decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Fein politicians for attending the funeral of prominent republican Bobby Storey during Covid-19 restrictions.

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All the main unionist parties have demanded the resignation of PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne, claiming he has lost the confidence of their community.

The Stormont Assembly is set to be recalled tomorrow morning for an emergency debate following the violence.

With reporting by Press Association

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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