'The United Kingdom is under mortal threat': James O'Brien's powerful reaction to NI violence

8 April 2021, 15:30

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien gives his a powerful and impassioned reaction to the sixth night of violence in Northern Ireland.

Political leaders at Stormont have condemned "deplorable" violence in Northern Ireland after the sixth night of unrest which has left several police officers with serious injuries.

The disorder, which began last week, has flared up in various parts of the country.

In Belfast rioters from both nationalist and unionist communities on attacked each other, police and journalists on Wednesday night.

It was likely that paramilitary organisations were involved and had planned the rioting, according to PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts.

Read more: Northern Ireland: Stormont condemns 'deplorable' violence after sixth night of unrest

James O'Brien reflected on the unrest: "It is perhaps the most potent illustration on just how dishonest this entire administration has become. And it had to become this honest after the Referendum result.

"There was no earthly way you could deliver a Brexit that adhered to Theresa May's red lines or involved the abolition of free movement of people without threatening the intent and spirit of the Good Friday Agreement.

"Maybe that's what [Boris Johnson] meant by sunlit uplands, petrol bomb lit streets."

James reacted as locals gathered at the remains of a burnt out bus on the Shankill Road, Belfast, on Thursday.
James reacted as locals gathered at the remains of a burnt out bus on the Shankill Road, Belfast, on Thursday. Picture: PA/LBC

James countered that it is "simplistic and wrong" to chalk up the violence as a direct consequence of the "so-called Protocol", which is a "crucial part of the Withdrawal Agreement" - claiming there is "no way" that Brexit is the sole reason.

However, he said that Northern Irish peer Kate Hoey seems to believe Brexit is to blame herself.

She wrote an article in 2016 entitled "Brexit won't hurt Northern Ireland at all, instead it will brighten its future" yet today tweeting "The Protocol has destabilised Northern Ireland."

James commented that the Protocol is a "crucial part of the Withdrawal Agreement that she was a cheerleader for."

"Theresa May gave the DUP £1 billion to try to avoid this situation," James said, calling for listeners to think about what Boris Johnson "has done to the Good Friday Agreement, has done to the island and Ireland, and done to the very basic...relationship between politics and truth."

James played a speech by Boris Johnson three years ago, where he pledged no Conservative Government "would do exactly what he did within months of winning the general election."

"It's not just the Good Friday Agreement that's under mortal threat today. It's the very United Kingdom itself."