The DUP must live up to their pledge to voters over the Northern Ireland Protocol
A letter from Kirk McDowell:
The combined DUP/TUV vote is proof that the vast majority of unionists care much more for the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom, than retaining an assembly, whose credibility is diminishing by the day.
Contrary to claims of the protocol’s apologists this ‘awakening’ is not the result of ‘manufactured grievances’ by the DUP. The party only adopted its current position after it witnessed the scale of grassroot anti-protocol protests, staged all over the Province.
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The DUP’s relative success in holding its vote has shown that a majority of unionists, were prepared to forgive their previous cooperation with the implementation of the protocol. But only on the basis that they uphold their main manifesto commitment that it will not be ’business as usual at Stormont’ until the ‘protocol is sorted out’.
Whilst, unionists should welcome the new broadly united position of the DUP/TUV, it will simply not be sustainable in long term unless the former, clarify their rhetoric about what exactly their end game is.
The DUP keep talking about the need for ‘fundamental changes to, or replacement of, the Northern Ireland Protocol’. However these statements cause concern for those unionists who believe the DUP’s main priority is still the restoration of the Executive.
The protocol creates a foreign customs barrier in the middle of the UK. It subjugates the people of NI to EU law. These things cannot be reformed or replaced in any way which will ever be beneficial to the Union. They can only be removed!
Some recent reports have suggested the government is considering reforms such as only requiring border checks for goods bound for the Republic, or allowing NI businesses the option of choosing between EU or British law.
Whist these suggestions may mitigate against some the more harmful economic effects of the protocol, they will still make NI a place apart from the rest of the UK, continuously developing closer economic ties with Eire/EU.
The DUP have a duty to kill these ideas before they start. They can do so with simple unambiguous rhetoric. They must state the protocol is an absolute constitutional issue. Northern Ireland must leave the EU on exactly the same terms as the rest of the UK, Nothing less will be enough to restore devolution.
Kirk McDowell. Belfast BT5