Threats and intimidation of personnel in the ports of Belfast and Larne have forced the temporary suspension of the controls created by the Irish Protocol – contained in the Brexit agreement – and has reactivated the ghosts of violence in Ulster. The personal threats were accompanied by graffiti in unionist neighborhoods No customs in the Irish Sea! reflecting growing popular discontent with the situation created since January 1.
The Irish Protocol is supposed to create peace and harmony and is achieving just the opposite, warned Northern Ireland Chief Minister Arlene Foster of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) over the weekend. Foster has denounced the protocol as “unworkable” and has asked “Premier” Boris Johnson to resign from it. The controversial protocol keeps Northern Ireland aligned with the EU single market to avoid a return to a ‘hard’ border within the island. In return, the closest thing to an internal customs office has been created in the Irish Sea, with the control of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The controls created in ports and the bureaucracy required by the European Union – which has its own inspection staff – have created serious delays in the transport of perishable products and products of animal origin and have caused supply problems in large supermarket chains, who recently wrote to the Government demanding a solution.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove confirmed that he has written to the Vice President of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, calling for the suspension of Brexit controls and warning about how it is affecting the daily life of Northern Irishmen. With goodwill, we will be able to resolve this matter, Gove said.
Michael Gove also met with Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein’s Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill to discuss the situation created on the ground and the growing social tension over the implementation of the controversial Irish Protocol. Tensions had been building for days, between the scenes of the supermarkets with empty shelves and the complaints of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs about the bureaucracy generated by Brexit. The threat of the EU to activate Article 16 of the protocol, to impose controls between the two Irlandes and prevent the “leak” of vaccines – condemned as “an act of hostility” by Alene Foster herself, however, served as a trigger for the campaign with intimidation and graffiti throughout the weekend.
The East Antrum authorities were the first to announce the withdrawal of their inspectors as a result of “the sinister and threatening threat of these weeks, including the appearance of graffiti in the area that points to our staff as possible targets of attacks.” The unions have meanwhile expressed their fear and called for the reinforcement of security measures so that staff can return to their posts.
This is the sad reality of those who have imposed their conditions on Northern Ireland without their consent and without taking into account the delicate balance of power that exists here, said MP Ian Paisley Jr., son of the legendary Unionist leader, who, however, he condemned the intimidation and threats: “These tactics cannot take place in a democracy.Although the Irish Protocol was negotiated by Boris Johnson, dozens of ‘Tory’ deputies have taken advantage of the circumstance to demand that the ‘premier’ renegotiate or renounce it unilaterally. The protocol doesn’t work, said former conservative and ultra-Brexit leader Iain Duncan Smith.