DUP Deputy Leader Paula Bradley: Declaration on NI Protocol shows unionism is united

The DUP deputy leader has emphasised that a joint statement from unionists rejecting the NI Protocol reaffirms how united unionism is in opposing the measure – and what a serious threat to peace it is.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 10:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 10:54 pm
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, PUP leader Billy Hutchinson, UUP leader Doug Beattie and TUV leader Jim Allister at Parliament Buildings, Stormont as they launched a joint statement against the NI Protocol. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

MLA Paula Bradley was speaking after unionist leaders issued a joint statement on Tuesday, rejecting the NI Protocol and calling for a replacement that respects NI’s place within the UK.

The statement said: “We, the undersigned unionist political leaders, affirm our opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol, its mechanisms and structures and reaffirm our unalterable position that the protocol must be rejected and replaced by arrangements which fully respect Northern Ireland’s position as a constituent and integral part of the UK.”

The signatories were DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, UUP leader Doug Beattie, TUV leader Jim Allister and PUP leader Billy Hutchinson.

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Ms Bradley last night welcomed the unified position.

“Unionism is united in opposing the protocol,” she said. “It is harming the Union, it is harming homes, it is harming business and it is harming stability.

“It has never been more important for decision makers in Brussels, London and Dublin to recognise that no elected unionist in Northern Ireland supports this protocol. They cannot, with any credibility, argue that the protocol cements peace and stability when it has been the fuel for the fires of instability.

“We will continue to work with like-minded unionists to ensure that a strong message is sent to the government. It is time for them to act.”

UUP MLA John Stewart said: “We have made it clear we will cooperate with anybody in order to protect Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom and the Belfast Agreement.

“As far back as 2019 the Ulster Unionist Party warned about the dangers of the protocol while other parties gave it their support. Our position has not changed and what we have done is put forward pragmatic solutions in order to replace the protocol.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said unity was to be expected.

“Unionists uniting in defence of the Union should be no surprise,” he said. “Thus, identifying that insidious threat from the union-dismantling protocol should not be a stretch for any unionist.

“Having affirmed unalterable opposition to the protocol all need to hold the line, confident in the knowledge that an unyielding refusal to accept the protocol means it will remain without a shred of unionist consent and, therefore, is doomed.”