IN PICTURES: Bandsmen and balaclavas as loyalists protest Protocol in Portadown

Hundreds of people have taken part in a protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol in Co Armagh.

Sunday, 6th June 2021, 10:18 am
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 5th June 2021 Hundreds attended a rally in Portadown, organised by a group calling themselves the Unionist and Loyalist Unified Coalition. Picture: Philip Magowan / Press Eye

Loyalists gathered in Portadown town centre on Saturday in demonstration over the controversial protocol and what organisers said is “two-tier policing”.

A number of bands took part in the rally and a few speakers also addressed the crowd.

A number of people leading the march were wearing balaclavas, and many held anti-protocol signs and placards while others waved Union flags.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 5th June 2021 Hundreds attended a rally in Portadown, organised by a group calling themselves the Unionist and Loyalist Unified Coalition. Picture: Philip Magowan / Press Eye

Police officers held a sign informing protesters they were taking part in an illegal protest and that they are liable to arrest.

Many others wore face masks and hooded jumpers to cover their face.

The organisers had not applied to the Parades Commission for permission to hold the protest.

Under current Covid-19 guidelines, gatherings are limited to 500 people outside.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 5th June 2021 Hundreds attended a rally in Portadown, organised by a group calling themselves the Unionist and Loyalist Unified Coalition. Picture: Philip Magowan / Press Eye

The protest, which lasted around 45 minutes, passed off peacefully.

A new raft of checks on goods at the ports of Belfast and Larne under the terms of the protocol have sparked anger among unionists and loyalists who feel Northern Ireland is being separated from the rest of the UK.

Talks are continuing between the EU and the UK Government to solve some of the issues linked to the protocol, but many unionists have called for the protocol to be scrapped.

Unionists and loyalists who opposed the protocol say it created a “border in the Irish Sea”, distancing Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 5th June 2021 Hundreds attended a rally in Portadown, organised by a group calling themselves the Unionist and Loyalist Unified Coalition. Picture: Philip Magowan / Press Eye

Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd called on the PSNI to investigate the alleged breaches of parade legislation at Saturday’s event.

The Upper Bann MLA said: “Several hundred protesters gathered in Portadown town centre today.

“An unnotified band parade also took place, with the town centre basically closed down by the protest.

“While everyone has a right to peaceful protest there is an onus on everyone to act within the law.”

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 5th June 2021 A rally in Portadown, organised by a group calling themselves the Unionist and Loyalist Unified Coalition. Picture: Philip Magowan / Press Eye

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