Lord Empey: DUP cannot lead struggle against the protocol when they agreed its essence

A letter from Reg Empey:

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 11:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st July 2021, 12:34 am
Nigel Dodds, Arlene Foster and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson listen to the prime minister, Boris Johnson, addressing the DUP drinks reception at the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday October 1 2019, the night before the DUP agreed to EU rules for Northern Ireland
Nigel Dodds, Arlene Foster and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson listen to the prime minister, Boris Johnson, addressing the DUP drinks reception at the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday October 1 2019, the night before the DUP agreed to EU rules for Northern Ireland

A poll published yesterday shows that eight out of 10 people in Northern Ireland distrust the DUP over the Protocol and six out of 10 distrust Sinn Fein. This will come as little surprise.

The DUP position on the border in the Irish Sea has been contradictory from the start.

Firstly, it accepted Boris Johnson’s proposal to the EU for a border in the Irish Sea on October 2 2019. Also included in the prime minister’s proposals were Border Inspection Posts at Northern Ireland’s ports and that EU rules would apply to all goods coming from Great Britain to NI, thus leaving us under the jurisdiction of the European Court.

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Secondly, Arlene Foster, on behalf of the DUP, endorsed these proposals as ‘a serious and sensible way forward’. Fifteen days later, when the EU accepted the key proposal for an Irish Sea Border, the protocol was agreed and only then did the DUP reject the protocol. How can they now claim to be capable of leading the struggle against the protocol when they agreed to its key component parts when they held the balance of power at Westminster?

Sinn Fein has traditionally been the most anti-European party on the island of Ireland. Right from the 1970s Sinn Fein said it was a capitalist plot. They rejected all of the treaties negotiated by the Irish government and only came to support the EU at the time of Brexit when they saw an opportunity to exploit the potential for a trade border on the island, something all other parties rejected.

They fuelled fears about a border and threatened that there would be violence if one came into being.

They have been silent on the border in the Irish Sea, seeing this as a way that they can advance their long-term objectives. Their position lacks any credibility.

The Ulster Unionist Party has developed alternative proposals to the present chaos and uncertainty and we will be promoting them with renewed vigour in the coming days.

Lord Empey, Westminster

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