O’Neill Wrightbus deal claims a fantasy: Paisley

Ian Paisley has said Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill is indulging in a “fantasy” by claiming NI’s continued presence in the EU single market helped Wrightbus sell 60 hydrogen buses to Germany.

The North Antrim DUP MP said: “The truth is for as long as Sinn Fein continues to ignore the problems caused by the protocol to the UK single market – Wrightbus’s biggest trading relationship – the opportunity to grow and succeed will not be fully realised.

“Businesses require leadership and honesty and the sooner Sinn Fein are honest with themselves and everyone else the country will only then get the leadership it requires.”

Ms O’Neill had claimed that the Wrightbus hydrogen bus deal in Germany was due to “the benefits that our continued access to the EU single market is yielding for local business, our economy and jobs”.

Wrightbus has secured a deal for up to 60 buses in Germany - its second international trade deal in two weeks.

Meanwhile, DUP East Belfast MLA David Brooks has said the Alliance Party and SDLP lack consistency in their approach to electing a speaker at the Assembly.

He said: “In 2017 Sinn Fein blocked the appointment of a speaker and ministers because of the Irish language. They were repeatedly aided by the Alliance Party and the SDLP.

“In 2022 both the Alliance Party and the SDLP are taking a different approach when the matter undermining devolution is the NI Protocol. This time, despite zero unionist support for the protocol, the Alliance Party and the SDLP want the government to operate as normal.”

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie has asked Finance Minister Conor Murphy for his department to reopen a public consultation on the Province’s budget.

Mr Beattie has also called on the head of the civil service in Northern Ireland, Jayne Brady, to convene all-party talks to draw up a Programme for Government in the absence of an Executive.