Over 30 groups paraded through the town of Co Armagh before several speakers addressed the crowd, including DUP East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson and TUV leader Jim Allister.
The rally, organized by the Mid/South Armagh Grassroots Unionist, is the latest of many that have taken place in Markethill since the controversial post-Brexit trade deal was negotiated between the UK government and the European Union.
Unionists were outraged that the border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland had become an inland border of Great Britain, which affected the free flow of trade.
Commenting after speaking at the rally, Sammy Wilson compared the actions of the EU to those of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.
“The Irish Sea border imposes the will of the Nationalists on the Unionists. It undermines the principle of intercommunal harmony, undermines the Acts of Union and violates the constitutional settlement in Northern Ireland.
“Through the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU is essentially annexing Northern Ireland in the same way that President Putin has already annexed part of Ukraine and is seeking to further undermine that country’s independence.”
Mr Wilson added: “Boris Johnston has rightly led the campaign to stop Putin from undermining the democratic aspirations of the people of Ukraine, and he has an even greater responsibility as the British Prime Minister prevents Brussels from annexing Northern Ireland by repealing the NI Protocol.
“Make no mistake, while the protocol hurts the economy of Northern Ireland, even more fundamentally, it separates us from the country we belong to, undermines democracy and imposes foreign rules on this part of the UK.
“The threat is so severe that there is no room left for unionists to point points at each other, undermine the morale of the union population with divisive tactics and words, and that would be the worst disservice any unionist politician could do to make political capital. this constitutional danger.
Jim Allister said that “foreign sovereignty over any part of Great Britain is incompatible with being an integral part of that kingdom”.
Addressing a large crowd, Mr Allister said: “The basis of trade union cooperation, as set out in the Ulster Day Declaration, is, in her words, ‘the unwavering position that the Protocol must be rejected.’
“The need for such a waiver has not changed. This is because, through the Northern Ireland Protocol, the European Union gains sovereignty over economic and trade matters in Northern Ireland, subjecting us to its laws, which we cannot change, and to the rules of the European Court of Justice.”
The TUV leader added: “So any ‘landing pad’ that leaves us annexed into the EU single market is not ‘the best of both worlds’ but keeps us firmly in the EU world, with the UK designated as a ‘third country’.” ”, while we are subject to the laws and jurisdiction of the European Union. Such a nonstarter.
“Any unfounded notion that you can be part of the EU single market and be subject to its customs code, but at the same time not be subject to its sovereignty, is a dangerous delusion.
“So any acceptable way forward requires the EU to relinquish its ill-gotten sovereignty over Northern Ireland. There can be no compromise on this constitutional imperative. This is not a matter to be deceived or evaded, and those who do so lose the right to expect transfers from anti-protocol unions.”
While the common platform has shown a degree of union unity as opposed to post-Brexit trade deals, at one point during Mr. Wilson’s speech, Mr. Allister was forced to intervene to ask people to stop bullying the DUP MP.
On a snowy night, Mr. Wilson compared the EU’s attitude towards NI in the Brexit process to Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine.
However, his comments were often silenced as angry crowds blamed his party for the failure of the Brexit process.
Mr. Allister encouraged the crowd to listen to the speakers, saying, “I encourage you to listen to the speakers. You will have the opportunity to express yourself in the elections, but today it is important that we listen to all the voices of the unions. The people who are here are the people who oppose the protocol.”
Mr. Wilson thanked him and told the audience: “We are on the same side. We didn’t implement the protocol, the British government brought in the protocol and implemented it.”
Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson also attended the protest rally.
He said: “It’s good to see so many unionists and loyalists speaking out against the Protocol subordinating the Union. It’s very cold, but one thing is certain: temperatures will rise steadily with each passing day that protocol remains in place.
“We are heading into a long, hot summer with no solutions. Even though the team newspaper managed to lower the temperature over the summer last July, no one will be deceived by such promises in the absence of a clear delivery anymore.
“It is important that we dispel this notion that there is any scope for a ‘best of both worlds’ dual market access as an acceptable landing zone. Is not; The position of NI as part of Great Britain must be restored, and this requires the strict observance of Article 6 of the Acts of Union.”
Mr Bryson said he believed there were no “opportunities” in the protocol and added: “Even if there were, they are completely outweighed by the constitutional mutilation they could cause. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?
“It is important that we have a collective trade union and loyalist front against the Protocol. This includes encouraging and empowering new voices and building a broad movement. This campaign can only be based on fundamental principles, the key of which is the demand to restore the Acts of Union.
“At Wednesday’s Portadown rally, I intend to set out my views on why repealing the protocol is not enough and outline the fundamental reform of the Belfast Agreement that must be implemented before any union member can credibly argue for a return to power-sharing institutions. “.