Hundreds attend anti-protocol rallies in Belfast – in pictures

Hundreds attended anti-protocol rallies in Belfast on Friday night.

Several hundred people attended the protests across Belfast, which also included a number of bands.

In East Belfast, a number of speakers addressed the rally, including the Orange Order’s Mervyn Gibson.

He said: “We stand on this platform as unionists opposed to the protocol. We may differ on other points, we may have different emphasis and priorities, but we stand here this evening united against the protocol. I know many of you out there – and you have different allegiances, you belong to different bands, you support different football teams, for all I know there may even be some blue men here this evening.

“This generation faces a new threat – the protocol, a threat that came from within, a threat that was negotiated and agreed by Boris (Johnson).”

The Belfast rallies are the latest in a series which have been taking place across Northern Ireland outlining unionist and loyalist opposition to the post-Brexit protocol, which sees additional checks on goods arriving into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

It is strongly opposed by unionists as a border in the Irish Sea.

East Belfast Assembly candidate Joanne Bunting claimed “our culture and identity has been under attack for decades”.

“We will not be diminished and we refuse to be demonised,” she told the east Belfast crowd.

“To the Irish Government, we say we will work with you as neighbours but mind your own business. Look after your own country and keep your nose out of the internal affairs, trade and constitutional position of this United Kingdom.

“To the EU, we say we are not your bargaining chip, we are not your leverage and we will not be your hostage and we are not a divorce settlement.”

Loyalist activist Moore Holmes also addressed the rally.

He said: “What we have witnessed this evening is a fantastic demonstration of unity and solidarity right throughout the unionist and loyalist community against the protocol.

“It cannot end here. The same unity of purpose we must demonstrate in the voting booths on May 5 and must be shown after the election.”

Jim Allister addressed a rally against the protocol in north Belfast on Friday.

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