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brexit fallout Port checks in Northern Ireland suspended after coded message to Sunday World

Sea inspection post staff were sent home just hours after we reported on those believed to have connections to loyalist elements had attacked a lorry driver on the main Belfast to Larne Road

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PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 2/2/2021: Trucks arrive at Larne port in Co. Antrim this morning on a ferry from Scotland. PSNI officers are now patrolling the port area after local authority workers were withdrawn from duty at the facility following threats.

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 2/2/2021: Trucks arrive at Larne port in Co. Antrim this morning on a ferry from Scotland. PSNI officers are now patrolling the port area after local authority workers were withdrawn from duty at the facility following threats.

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 2/2/2021: Trucks arrive at Larne port in Co. Antrim this morning on a ferry from Scotland. PSNI officers are now patrolling the port area after local authority workers were withdrawn from duty at the facility following threats.

Checks at Northern Irish ports have been suspended after staff were threatened by a group opposed to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Sunday World this week revealed how a shady organisation known as ‘Loyalist Resistance’ may have been behind the threats.

In a coded message the group told this newspaper that they would target personnel working on sea border posts and those who they described as "implementing partition from the rest of the UK".

The caller claimed that border staff were behind a "unity project", and said that they must "desist from their actions".

It is also thought the group was linked to an arson attack on a South Belfast multicultural centre recently.

Disenfranchised and disillusioned loyalists are thought to be regrouping behind the new organisation following the fallout over Brexit and so-called 'border' in the Irish Sea.

Sea inspection post staff were sent home just hours after we reported on those believed to have connections to loyalist elements had attacked a lorry driver on the main Belfast to Larne Road after throwing a bin full of rocks from an overpass on the dual carriageway.

Lorry driver Fra McCaffrey (56) was left blind in one eye in the sick attack three weeks ago.

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Belfast lorry driver Fra McCaffery 'will not regain sight in eye' after overpass attack

Belfast lorry driver Fra McCaffery 'will not regain sight in eye' after overpass attack

Belfast lorry driver Fra McCaffery 'will not regain sight in eye' after overpass attack

Since then, graffiti has appeared around Ulster, which is thought to have been done by the new group, or those connected to their cause.

Daubings criticising the protocol and the Irish Sea border appeared on the constituency office of DUP MLA Christopher Stalford, and on walls in the Belvoir estate in Belfast targeting former Irish Taoiseach and current Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Speaking of the recent threats towards port staff, Minister for Agriculture, the Environment and Rural affairs, Edwin Poots, said: "In consultation with my staff I have decided to withdraw staff from Belfast and Larne ports tonight.

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"Their safety remains paramount. I have spoken to HMG ministers and outlined issues of concern.

"I welcome the support of my party leader in making such a significant decision."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the department said: "The situation will be kept under review and in the meantime full documentary checks will continue to be carried out as usual."

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