UPDATE 2-N.Irish loyalist paramilitaries withdraw support for 1998 peace deal - Belfast Telegraph
* Loyalist paramilitaries warn Britain about Brexit
* Temporarily withdraw support for the 1998 peace agreement
* Don't promise violence, but don't underestimate our anger
* Increases pressure on UK, Ireland and EU over Brexit (add details)
By Guy Faulconbridge
LONDON, Feb. 6 / PRNewswire / - Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary organizations announced to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that they are temporarily withdrawing support for the 1998 peace deal over concerns over the Brexit deal, the Belfast Telegraph reported.
An umbrella organization representing the banned groups said in a letter that the union opposition to the Northern Irish protocol - part of the Brexit divorce deal - should remain "peaceful and democratic".
The Northern Ireland Peace Agreement of 1998, known as Belfast or the Good Friday Agreement, largely ended three decades of violence between nationalists who fought for Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic of Ireland and loyalists who want it to stay in the UK.
The paramilitaries, including the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Ulster Defense Association and the Red Hand Commando, said they were concerned about the disruption to trade between the UK and Northern Ireland due to the Brexit deal.
"We are concerned about the disruption of trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK," said the letter from David Campbell, chairman of the Loyalist Communities Council.
However, they said their fundamental disagreement was more fundamental: Britain, Ireland and the European Union had violated their commitments to the 1998 Peace Agreement and the two communities in the Northern Irish Protocol.
"Please do not underestimate the strength of sentiment across the union family on this matter," the letter said.
Such a sharp warning - albeit with the promise not to provoke violence immediately - dramatically increases the pressure on Johnson, his Irish counterpart Micheál Martin and the European Union over Brexit.
The loyalist groups gave up the armed struggle and the remaining violence in 1998 as the deal was largely carried out by nationalist dissident groups opposed to the peace deal.
Since the actual Brexit on January 1, 2020, Northern Ireland has had problems importing a number of goods from the UK - which according to trade unionists or loyalists divides the UK and is therefore unacceptable.
The European Union promised legal action on Wednesday after the British government unilaterally extended a grace period to control food imports into Northern Ireland. Brussels said this was against the provisions of the UK divorce treaty.
Joe Biden bluntly warned the UK, during his presidential campaign last year, not to abide by the Northern Ireland peace agreement of 1998 because it has left the European Union otherwise there would be no separate US trade deal. (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Editing by Estelle Shirbon)
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