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The young loyalist who dared contemplate the idea of a ‘new’, united, Ireland

Activist Joel Keys says unionism would benefit from confronting, not avoiding, the things it finds most difficult

He was the teenage supermarket worker who shocked MPs examining loyalist anger in Northern Ireland by claiming that sometimes violence “was the only tool you have left”. Joel Keys left the committee chair, Tory MP Simon Hoare, “chilled and appalled” and he faced a media backlash.

Six months on Keys, now 20, has not disappeared into oblivion after his 15 minutes of fame. Nor has he abandoned his position on violence. He has ambitions to become a local politician representing young loyalist communities that he describes as “goldmines” left behind by unionist parties and education leaders.

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