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Troll hell Granny 'willing to give' her life to end Northern Ireland protocol fears for safety after backlash

"I've been getting a lot of hassle and I'm really not well myself, I have severe heart failure. I'm really upset about it all."

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Hazel Officer speaks to our reporter Patricia Devlin this week

Hazel Officer speaks to our reporter Patricia Devlin this week

Hazel Officer speaks to our reporter Patricia Devlin this week

A grandmother who said she was "willing to give" her life to end the Northern Ireland Protocol has said she may have to contact police over her safety after a social media backlash.

Pensioner Hazel Officer told the Sunday World she'd been left "upset" over the reaction to comments she made during a loyalist protest where she said she would sacrifice her life over the Irish Sea border.

Speaking from her Newtownards home on Friday, she said: "I've been getting a lot of hassle and I'm really not well myself, I have severe heart failure. I'm really upset about it all."

She had told Sky News reporters at the June 18 Ards rally: "The other side have got everything they wanted by causing mayhem, fear and death.

"Maybe it's about time we thought about doing the same. I am certainly willing to give my life for it."

Her remarks caused shock and outrage on social media, with many accusing Mrs Officer of inciting violence.

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Hazel Officer, who claimed that she  was willing to give her life when attending the Brexit: 'Peace or protocol rally in Newtownards 10 days ago is living in fear after her comments.

Hazel Officer, who claimed that she was willing to give her life when attending the Brexit: 'Peace or protocol rally in Newtownards 10 days ago is living in fear after her comments.

Hazel Officer, who claimed that she was willing to give her life when attending the Brexit: 'Peace or protocol rally in Newtownards 10 days ago is living in fear after her comments.

Asked about the backlash, the grandmother, whose late husband Raymond was a former RUC officer, she said: "It's upset me so very, very much.

"My sister won't let me see it (social media).

"I just don't know (about my safety) but I think I will have to (contact police)." Asked if she regretted her controversial comments, Mrs Officer added: "I have no thoughts on it."

Mrs Officer was one of hundreds of protesters who had turned out for the anti-protocol gathering which came a week after a similar rally on the Shankill Road where a Sinn Féin 'United Ireland' banner was burned.

Speakers at the event included TUV leader Jim Allister and Baroness Kate Hoey.

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Police later confirmed it was reviewing footage of a number of unnotified band marches which took place on the night.

Following the event, a clip of Mrs Officer's remarks was widely circulated on social media.

It sparked calls of calm from north Down politicians who condemned her language.

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The protest in Newtownards last month

The protest in Newtownards last month

The protest in Newtownards last month

Newtownards Alliance councillor Nick Mathison said: "The appropriate way to engage with issues arising from the Protocol is to engage with both the UK government and the EU.

"I don't think that mass protest and whipping people up into an agitated state is going to help anybody.

"I think we need to have cool heads, abide by the law and engage through the relevant political channels to bring about the change that people feel is required in some of those aspects of the Protocol which are causing difficulties."

North Down UUP MLA Alan Chambers said threats of violence would achieve nothing, adding: "As someone who lived through the Troubles and served during them in the RUC Reserve, I experienced many colleagues and innocent people murdered and maimed by terrorists.

"If we learned anything from the terrorism campaign it is that violence and death only serves to wreck families and achieves nothing. I despair and fear for my grandchildren when I hear any call for violence being advocated to solve problems facing us."

A TUV spokesman said in a statement about the remarks: "The event on Friday night was an entirely peaceful protest against the NI Protocol with many families in attendance. The comments of a single member of the public should not obscure that reality.

"There is no excuse for violence or for the many threats of violence, least of all from elected politicians who repeatedly warned of violence if they didn't get their way in relation to the denial of Brexit for Northern Ireland.

"The Protocol is rightly seen by many as the product of the threat of violence. This has set a very dangerous precedent."

There have been about 40 anti-protocol marches since April 9 and, according to police, 30 have been unnotified.

This week a bid by unionist politicians to have the Protocol overturned was rejected by the courts.

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