Peaceful rallies are a key part of the mix of opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol

News Letter editorial on Saturday February 19 2022:

By Editorial
Saturday, 19th February 2022, 1:42 am
Updated Saturday, 19th February 2022, 1:44 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

There have been repeat attempts to play down unionist opposition to the Irish Sea border.

Simon Coveney, the strongly nationalist Irish minister, in Belfast this week depicted unhappiness with the protocol as minimal.

There have been surveys which appear to show positive unionist support for the protocol, but these are rendered meaningless when they also show massive cross community support for unfettered UK trade — something that is made impossible by the same protocol.

The complicated nature of the trade border explains such confusion and has meant that unionist opposition is not as strong as it might be. But the way to respond to that is to make clear, as people from Jim Allister to Ben Habib to Esmond Birnie have done, the implications of the border – again and again, until everyone sees what has happened.

Last night a crowd estimated at more than 1,000 people turned out in Markethill against the Irish Sea border, despite bad weather. Peaceful rallies are a key part of the mix of opposition to the constitutional harm of the barrier.

Meanwhile it is welcome that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has dismissed the idea that the DUP is returning to a pragmatic approach to the protocol. The idea of NI having the best of both worlds is misconceived. It can be in the UK internal market or the EU one, not both.

If MPs like John Redwood (see opposite in the print edition — a republished tweet of Mr Redwood’s) can be so uncompromising about the barrier, so should all unionists.

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