Mary Lou McDonald urges loyalists to think again about organising further protests

Ms McDonald said concerns expressed by loyalists in recent weeks had been heard and she highlighted that there were political mechanisms for addressing those issues
Mary Lou McDonald urges loyalists to think again about organising further protests

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill and leader Mary Lou McDonald outside Stormont in Belfast, speaking to media this afternoon following a loyalist protest in the city against Brexit's Northern Ireland Protocol. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has urged loyalists contemplating further protests over the Irish Sea border to think again.

Mrs McDonald said such demonstrations had the potential to escalate into violence.

She said concerns expressed by loyalists in recent weeks had been heard and she highlighted that there were political mechanisms for addressing those issues.

“I would just appeal to people to demonstrate a level of consideration for their neighbours, for their own communities, and for society more widely and I would ask that those that are organising or planning protests actually think again,” she said.

“We know that things can escalate very quickly, we know that whatever issues people have, whatever concerns, there are ways in which those can be mediated, and we have the mechanisms to do that.

A loyalist sign in Dungannon, County Tyrone. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA
A loyalist sign in Dungannon, County Tyrone. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA

“And I think, above all else, I would appeal to political unionism to now lead from the front and to make it clear to those communities that have concerns that their concerns are heard, that they are understood, that they will be addressed, but that protests on the streets, anything that runs the risk of violence again and disorder returning to the streets, is not on.

She pleaded with people to "step back" from such events. 

“We need to hear very, very clear messages, very clear leadership from political unionism in the time ahead, to ensure that we can get to grips with the issues of concern, but to make absolutely sure that we have no further scenes of disorder and violence on our streets.”

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