Northern Ireland Brexit tensions spark fear over rise of new extremist loyalist groups

Government warned Brexit may risk rise of Northern Ireland loyalist extremist groups

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Dr Aaron Edwards, the author of ‘UVF: Behind the Mask’, has expressed concern that ongoing Brexit tensions over the Northern Ireland protocol could forge dangerous new paramilitary factions. Northern Ireland was rocked by a series of violent riots earlier in the year, fueled in part by anger from Loyalists over new customs barriers between GB and Northern Ireland. Dr Edwards warned that continued “radicalization” over the Protocol may draw more young people into paramilitarism as well spark the emergence of violent new terrorist groups.

Dr Edwards told Express.co.uk: “The potential for breaking away, for fragmentation, is always there within Loyalist paramilitary groups.

“I think we are seeing more of that happening, that is a dangerous development and a pathway open to younger Loyalists coming up through.

“Younger people who may not have been involved in paramilitary activity but suddenly they see that they can become involved in lining their own pockets, making money off it.”

He added: That is a development which may happen another one might be that Loyalist paramilitary groups just collapse, call it a day, and there are rumours that they will fold at some stage.

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“But what replaces them again is an open question,” continued the University of Leicester academic.

“If we see more radicalization and extremism around the Northern Ireland protocol we could see new paramilitary groups emerge.

“So I am not going to say that that won’t happen.

“I think there is always a danger that may happen.”

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Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson urged Boris Johnson’s Government to “plunge the knife” into Northern Ireland protocol amid anger from Northern Irish unionists and Brexit supporters across the United Kingdom.

Mr Bryson said that while UK Government had “drawn their sword and sharpened the blade” in negotiations with Brussels it was time for Britain to act unilaterally to end the “constitutional absurdity” of the Brexit Protocol.

Bryson told Express.co.uk: “I think the British Government have drawn their sword and sharpened the blade but sadly they haven’t plunged it into the heart of the protocol yet.

“So I mean it is a nice start but it is almost like a drunk man taking his coat off in a fight outside a bar, I mean he is taking one step forward and two steps back shouting somebody hold me back!

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“I mean at some point it is going to have to be put up or shut up.

“I do think we are coming very close to that period of time,” he added.

Mr Byrson argued: “The Government are the ones who have the responsibility of coming up with a way to solve this.

“But the main difficulty they have is they accepted this notion that there could not be as much as a CCTV camera between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, I mean what is that? I mean what other sovereign country in the world would say oh well because of a threat of terrorism we might not police our own borders.”

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