DUP dismiss Nolan Show speculation of ‘softening’ on NI Protocol

A DUP spokesperson has strongly denied reports that the party’s position on the NI Protocol is softening.

By Graeme Cousins
Friday, 18th February 2022, 5:46 pm
Updated Friday, 18th February 2022, 5:56 pm

This morning’s Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster led with a story that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has dropped the DUP’s red line of totally scrapping the protocol and may now settle for “the best of both worlds”.

Stephen Nolan said: “Senior party figures have told the Nolan Show that the landing zone is now a best of both worlds scenario with Northern Ireland have access to both the UK and, crucially, the EU markets.”

He went on to say that the issue of the protocol has caused divisions within the party.

DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson during an anti-protocol rally at Dromore Orange Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

TUV leader Jim Allister told Mr Nolan: “If you are right about this, then the first thing it throws up is a very serious breach of the united unionist declaration of September 28 last year.

“If some unionist leader who signed that is now saying that they have altered their position despite the affirmation of it being an unalterable position then that is something they will have to answer for to all an sundry.”

“The best of both worlds comes at the price of accepting EU sovereignty over our economic and trading matters.

A DUP spokesperson said the claim on the Nolan Show was “total nonsense”.

The claim came a day after Sir Jeffrey Donaldson had said, following a fresh round of discussions with European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, that “the Protocol is the greatest threat to progress and prosperity in Northern Ireland of our generation”.

Sir Jeffrey said: “Every day that passes without the Irish Sea border being dealt with is a step closer to lasting economic hardship. Grace periods give only temporary relief.

“They deal with the symptoms – not the cause – of the problems inflicted by the Protocol.

“If we felt the full force of these arrangements, there could be more checks on food arriving into Northern Ireland than are carried out in the whole of the EU. This is frankly ridiculous.”

Earlier in the week DUP’s Lord Dodds had issued a statement on the protocol saying: “Reducing or simpflifying checks whilst leaving the superstructure of foreign law in place would be a recipe for continuing instability and would create more divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK in future years.

“No solution will endure that does not remedy this unacceptable and anti democratic situation.”

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