Orange Grand Master: Unionist opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol has been ignored

The rollercoaster of talks continues, whilst each day we are forced ever closer towards an all-Ireland economy.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 10:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 10:27 am
Edward Stevenson is grand master of the Grand Orange Order Lodge of Ireland

We urge Lord Frost to stand firm in these negotiations and not to capitulate to the unreasonable demands of the EU.

Removing checks on 50% of goods entering NI from GB does not come close to satisfying the urgent fundamental requirements of restoring our status as a full and integral part of the United Kingdom.

Unfettered access to goods within the United Kingdom is fundamental; the removal of the European Court of Justice role in the affairs of Northern Ireland is fundamental.

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Now is the time for real action. Prime Minister Boris Johnson knows that the conditions for triggering Article 16 have clearly been met. And while Article 16 is not the solution, it is a start and a clear signal that fundamental changes must be made.

We therefore ask, does Boris Johnston want to be the Prime Minister who stood firm for our cherished union, or does he want to be the Prime Minister who delivered what the IRA failed to do by overseeing the break-up the UK and the creation of a United Ireland? The Protocol lays the groundwork for political reunification by facilitating the creation of an all-Ireland economy.

Unionism is united in its opposition to the Protocol. However, our opposition is often underplayed, dismissed or ignored in the media and by sections of political society. To assist in ensuring that Unionist opposition continues to have a voice, the Orange Institution has facilitated the anti-Protocol Declaration for all Unionists to sign.

Those who champion the Protocol regularly assert that the Protocol is protecting the Belfast Agreement - when in reality the Protocol breaks that Agreement on a number of counts.

The real beneficiary of the Protocol is of course the Republic of Ireland. The intransigent position adopted by the Dublin government on the Protocol does little to suggest that they are listening to the concerns of Unionists or indeed seeking a pragmatic solution to the issue.

Therefore, I appeal to all Unionists, regardless of party affiliation, who truly care about the Union to sign the anti-Protocol Declaration so as to remind the Prime Minister and European Leaders of our dissatisfaction and to assert our demand that a solution is found which fully acknowledges and protects our position as an integral part of the United Kingdom.

Edward Stevenson is grand master of the Grand Orange Order Lodge. This article was first published in the November 20-21 Weekend print edition of the News Letter

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