Editorial: A court flatly contradicts the government's claim that immigration policy will apply to Northern Ireland, yet only Jim Allister thinks to raise such a vital matter at Stormont

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News Letter editorial on Tuesday May 13 2024:

Since the deal to restore Stormont earlier this year, Jim Allister has been the only major elected representative to campaign against the agreement.

Some DUP MPs have been outspoken against the deal but have focused their fire on the government, as if their own party had nothing to do with it, or they have cited ways in which it undermines Brexit. But respects in which the deal might undermine Brexit overall should be a long way down the concerns of unionists. After all, only a handful of leading London Brexiteers have given meaningful and consistent support to Northern Ireland.

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Yet it is Northern Ireland that has borne the brunt of UK agreements with the EU post 2016, above all in the disastrous Irish Sea border, evidence for the reality of which emerges almost daily. Now it emerges from a Belfast court ruling that the government’s symbolically essential Rwanda immigration policy – to show that government ministers control our borders even if judges try to say they can’t – cannot apply in Northern Ireland because of the UK-EU deal. This contradicts an assurance in the Safeguarding the Union document that immigration policy applies across the UK.

Yet, at Stormont yesterday, it was again left to Mr Allister to raise this latest illustration of NI being cut off from the rest of the UK.​ He was the only MLA to make reference to it, despite a chance to raise any business during Members’ Statements, where the success of hockey teams in Kilkeel was mentioned, the retirement of the manager of Crusaders and the NW 200. These are worthy subjects – we praised the NW 200 in this column yesterday – yet no-one thought to raise this ruling, except Mr Allister (who wasn’t called – he later cited it at executive questions).

It is a sad situation that only the TUV leader queries such a thing. Imagine how much worse it would be if he was not part of that chamber.