Sir Jeffrey Donaldson resignation: TUV leader says it has 'very wide ramifications for unionism'

The shock resignation of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson as DUP leader has “very wide ramifications for unionism,” Jim Allister has said.
TUV leader Jim Allister. Photo: PacemakerTUV leader Jim Allister. Photo: Pacemaker
TUV leader Jim Allister. Photo: Pacemaker

Following the DUP officers’ announcement on Friday afternoon – that Sir Jeffrey had “been charged with allegations of an historical nature” – TUV leader Mr Allister said unionism “must steady itself”.

Mr Allister said: “Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s departure in these very inauspicious and concerning circumstances, after he has done the damage of surrendering his party to the Protocol, has very wide ramifications for unionism.

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“Like any individual he must be afforded the protection of innocent until proven guilty. It must not be forgotten there is a family at the heart of this matter."

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEyeSir Jeffrey Donaldson. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Mr Allister added: “When the leader of unionism finds himself in this position, the damage is not limited to his party but impacts unionism as a whole.

"Unionism was already divided by the Donaldson Deal. This needs to be a cathartic moment for unionism. Unionism must steady itself and cut adrift the Donaldson folly of accepting an Irish Sea border and rule by EU law.”

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said that the “leadership of the DUP is a matter for the DUP,” but added: "Although the circumstances are of concern and in the public interest, we are mindful that this is now a criminal investigation and it would not be proper to comment further.

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"In all matters of this nature, we must first and foremost consider the victims and what impact media and public attention will have on them."The Ulster Unionist Party will be making no further comment.”

Sinn Fein vice-president and NI First Minister Michelle O’Neill responded to news of the resignation, saying: “My priority is to continue to provide the leadership the public expect and deserve, and to ensure the four-party Executive coalition delivers for the whole of our community now and in the future.

"The DUP leader has resigned after being charged with serious offences. This is now a matter for the criminal justice system.”

  • Statement by the Officers of the Democratic Unionist Party The Party Chairman has received a letter from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP confirming that he has been charged with allegations of an historical nature and indicating that he is stepping down as Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party with immediate effect. In accordance with the Party Rules, the Party Officers have suspended Mr Donaldson from membership, pending the outcome of a judicial process. The Party Officers have this morning unanimously appointed Mr Gavin Robinson MP as the Interim Party Leader.