Larne scaled

Loyalist threats to North port workers

The port of Larne in County Antrim

 

By Anthony Neeson


The Northern Ireland Executive has condemned threats made against workers at Belfast and Larne ports.


On Tuesday night, Mid and East Antrim Council withdrew its staff working at Larne carrying out Irish Sea border duties amid security fears believed to emanate from loyalist paramilitaries.


There were reports that people were seen gathering car registration numbers of workers. Graffiti has also appeared in recent days calling employees "targets."

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There have been tensions in recent weeks in loyalist and unionist communities over the new Irish Sea border which has seen Northern Ireland stay within the EU’s single market for goods as part of the Brexit agreement between the EU and UK, meaning that checks take place at Belfast and Larne ports on some vehicles arriving from Britain.


The European Union has also temporarily suspended its staff from working at both ports until further notice.


The Stormont Executive have said that the threats “should be lifted immediately and staff should be allowed to return to their posts."


Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the European Union have also condemned the threats against the staff.


East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson, whose constituency represents Larne, called on the UK government and the EU to “deal with the implications of the (Northern Ireland) Protocol."

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The protocol is the part of the Brexit agreement between the EU and UK which established the Irish Sea border.


Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said: “If there is evidence of threats on social media and of people taking car registrations” that arrests should be made.


The PSNI are meeting with council and departmental officials to discuss the threats.