Threats? What threats? This is the question that preoccupies many as skepticism continues to grow over recent intimidation allegations against local officials in the port of Larne and the city of Belfast, who, however, worked tangentially to manage the so-called Irish maritime border between Ireland and the UK the Brexit. As noted by well-informed political correspondent Sam McBride for the regional newsletter, a downright harsh anti-union publication, most allegations of threatened violence against UK and European Union workers appear to originate from the Democratic Unionist Party. The main opponent of the regulatory border came to an agreement between Brussels and London under the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol.[On Monday] There was news that the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council – of which the DUP is the largest party – suddenly withdrew its staff from the border post in Larne because graffiti was calling them “targets”. Shortly afterwards, the DUP announced that Edwin Poots, the minister responsible for most of the new border controls, was stepping down at midnight to undergo cancer surgery.
That news was quickly followed not only by the announcement that Mr Poots had withdrawn its staff from the controls in Larne and Belfast before leaving office, but also by the allegation by loyalist Jamie Bryson that Mrs Foster had tried to prevent Mr Poots from doing so Taking action removed him from office against his will.
… It is now clear that Mr Poots’ decision that evening was far more political than it was then apparent. The graffiti had surfaced 11 days earlier, but there doesn’t seem to have been any particular police concern that it posed an imminent threat to life. But last Sunday – two days after the EU triggered Article 16 of the NI Protocol to Control Vaccine Exports – Mr Poots called his senior official, Denis McMahon, to express his concern for the safety of the staff.
Mr. Poots, who briefly flirted six months ago and ordered his officers not to operate the border before retiring … On Monday night, a few hours before he left office, Mr. Poots called Mr. McMahon again to have the staff evacuated from Belfast and calling for Larne harbors …
Remarkably, therefore, the safety assessment was not from the police, but from Mr Poots.
As a result, the police have emphasized that they do not believe that the graffiti was linked to paramilitary groups.
Mr Poots stopped the controls not for political reasons, but specifically because of the threat, which risks inadvertently promoting further threats.
Or not so accidentally. The dubious sequence of events outlined by Sam McBride has been confirmed by other sources, although the British and pro-British media have been remarkably silent about the controversy, preferring to showcase insurgents taking to the streets to counter their loss of privileges protest exaggerating in Britain’s politically and culturally monolithic rump colony on the island of Ireland. Despite the DUP’s efforts to do it differently through their enthusiasm for the Empire’s Brexit revival.
Indeed, allegations of terrorist threats against innocent dockers seem to be crumbling day by day, the Irish Times reports:
Unions have denied raising concerns about suspicious activity at port controls before a council decided to withdraw workers from checkpoints.
The Mid and East Antrim Council withdrew environmental health workers from facilities in the port of Larne on Monday evening. The move came after the threat of graffiti against those carrying out new checks on goods arriving from the UK.
DUP Mayor Peter Johnson announced the decision on Monday, citing “serious concerns” by unions over “increasing suspicious activity,” including the recording of employee license plate information.
Police have blamed angry individuals and small groups for graffiti and threatening online comments.
Officials rated the incidents as “low” and insisted there was no evidence of broader paramilitary involvement in threats. They said there was nothing to substantiate claims that license plate details were collected.
The three unions representing council workers Nipsa, GMB and Unite have now denied bringing the claims Mr Johnson made.
Council staff returned to work Friday after the council examined a formal report on the threat assessment by the Northern Irish Police Service.
What started in a vortex of fear earlier in the week quickly looks like a well-timed political opportunism by a faction of Democratic Unionists hoping to get most of the party into a second attempt at building a Brexit line six counties, with the approval of like-minded allies in Britain. And with little concern about the long-term consequences of a return to a “hard division” on the island of Ireland. As for political and rhetorical tactics, they are ready to achieve this goal, as highlighted in the bloody years of unrest when it came to murder and mayhem. Loyalist gunmen may have pulled the trigger, but it was union politicians who pointed out the guns. And no one was trained in this behavior more than the DUP.
To borrow a worn out political phrase, they didn’t go away, you know?