A group representing loyalist paramilitary organisations have called on the next DUP leader to collapse powersharing if necessary to “stop the constant flow of concessions to Sinn Féin”, adding Irish officials are “no longer welcome in Northern Ireland”.
The Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) – an umbrella group representing the views of the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando – made the remarks following the decision of Edwin Poots to resign as DUP leader after internal party fury over his decision to nominate a First Minister after the UK government pledged to introduce Irish language legislation.
In a statement on Friday, the LCC cited its “dismay” over “recent instances of capitulation to Sinn Féin blackmail” and a lack of progress in attempts to get rid of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
It adds: “The LCC calls for a united unionist response to vigorously resist these attacks on Unionism.
“The new DUP leader must stop the constant flow of concessions to Sinn Féin even if that means suspending the normal operation of devolution.
“[The UK] government must retract their ill-thought out and rushed decision to legislate for Irish language at Westminster or risk prompting significant political and community instability.”
It calls for unionism to unite to “peacefully protest” against the protocol.
“We appeal for continued restraint and peaceful protest even in light of these latest provocative and destabilising developments” the statement said.
The statement also criticised the Irish Government, warning they will be unwelcome in the North until they “repair the damage they have created.”
“The continued denials and insulting commentary from the Irish Government proves the extent to which they misled European leaders with regard to the views of the people of Northern Ireland, and the guarantees for both communities contained within the Belfast Agreement.
“Until they accept and repair the damage they have created, Irish Government Ministers and Officials are no longer welcome in Northern Ireland.”