The loyalist paramilitary threat behind Northern Ireland’s crisis

Opinion: the loyalist influence on unionist parties has pushed the DUP towards disrupting any political progress in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland stumbles through yet another political crisis. After threatening to leave the Northern Ireland Executive over the protocol that ensures the continuance of a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and the Republic since September, DUP First Minister Paul Givan resigned earlier this month. In his resignation speech, he said that “the delicate balance created by the Belfast and St Andrew’s Agreements has been impacted by the agreement made by the United Kingdom and the European Union which created the Northern Ireland Protocol”. A day earlier, DUP Agriculture minister Edwin Poots ordered officials to halt post-Brexit checks on goods arriving from Great Britain.

Many observers interpreted the move by the DUP as an attempt to win back support from the pro-Brexit electorate fiercely opposed to any Irish sea border. Last Friday night in Markethill, Co Armagh, thousands protested against what they see as the “grave threat’ posed by NI Protocol. When DUP MP Sammy Wilson took to the stage, sections of the crowd booed.

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Dieter Reinisch

Dr Dieter Reinisch is an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway.