Northern Ireland

Loyalists' identity fears 'phantom' - Sir John Major

Sir John Major
Image caption Sir John Major said no-one was abandoning Northern Ireland loyalists

The former prime minister Sir John Major has said he has no sympathy for loyalists who claim the political process is eroding their British identity.

Sir John was in Dublin to mark the 20th anniversary of the Downing Street Declaration.

He said there was no threat to the Britishness of Northern Ireland unionists.

"I think it's a phantom fear," the former prime minister said.

"It's perfectly clear from the Downing Street Declaration and everything that for so long as Northern Ireland wishes to remain British, so long as the people of Northern Ireland wish to remain British, they will remain British.

"No-one is abandoning them, no-one is pushing them to one side.

"If you look at everyday life in Northern Ireland it is incomparably better than it was 20 to 25 years ago.

"Incomparably better for the people who are currently dissatisfied and for their children and for the future."

There have been several major loyalist protests in Northern Ireland throughout 2013 over the decision to limit the flying of the union flag at Belfast City Hall.

Many loyalists claim that some nationalists are trying to erase their identity from Northern Ireland.

More of the interview with Sir John is on The View at 22:35 GMT on BBC One Northern Ireland.

More on this story

Around the BBC