‘More than 3,000’ at loyalist protest against NI Protocol

  • Video report by Paul Reilly

Police say they estimate that more than 3,000 people in the Woodvale and Shankill areas of west Belfast have taken part in a loyalist protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The gathering got underway at around 7pm on Thursday, with a procession making its way from Woodvale Park to Shankill Leisure Centre before dispersing.

Many of those taking part in Thursday's protest were wearing balaclavas or had otherwise covered their faces, while a Sinn Féin banner was set alight.

Many protesters were wearing balaclavas. Credit: Presseye

PSNI Chief Inspector Darren Fox said police were in attendance at the un-notified event for evidence gathering purposes.

“Organisers of parades/processions are required to give formal notification of their intentions which was regrettably not provided or forthcoming,” he said.

“The numbers were also in excess of that permitted under the Public Health Regulations.

“An evidence-gathering operation was in place. Police issued a number of warnings and we will now review all the footage gathered and consider any suspected breaches of the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998 and offences in respect of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations NI 2021.”

The controversial NI Protocol has caused anger among loyalists and unionist who believe new checks introduced at ports in Larne and Belfast under its terms serve to separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

A banner is burned by protesters. Credit: Presseye