DUP: Irish Sea border biggest threat to Northern Ireland’s stability in a generation
The DUP has said that the “stability” of Northern Ireland is under threat in a way which has not been seen for a generation – adding that it expects government action on the protocol within days.
The message came in a statement from the party on Tuesday night after it had briefed chief UK Brexit negotiator Lord Frost on unionists’ concerns about the current constitutional situation.
It comes amid controversy over the possibility of an upsurge in violence from loyalists, angered by the Irish Sea border which the Protocol effectively created.
The DUP group which met Lord Frost was made up of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Gavin Robinson, and Lord Dodds.
Afterwards Sir Jeffrey said: “Our message was clear and unambiguous – the protocol must go ...
“Those in London, Dublin and Brussels who continue to talk up the need for these oppressive and undemocratic arrangements to preserve peace and the Belfast Agreement fail to recognise that the protocol presents the single greatest threat to stability in Northern Ireland in a generation.
“The protocol has no support from any shade or quarter of unionism.
“Its imposition without the consent of both traditions in Northern Ireland, and overriding of cross-community voting safeguards, has seriously undermined support for devolution.”
He added that “the government must act carefully but decisively to restore the delicate balance of community relations in the coming days”.
It all came after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday night that “there should be no doubt that there is no alternative to the full and correct implementation of the protocol” and that it is “the only possible solution to ensure peace and stability”.
Unionists reacted strongly to her statement.
Outgoing DUP leader Arlene Foster accused the EU of having a “tin ear” when it came to listening to unionist concerns about the protocol, saying: “I would urge our own government to act in relation to this issue because the United Kingdom as a sovereign entity has a right to have trade moving freely between the different parts and therefore that has to take place.”
Outgoing UUP leader Steve Aiken said: “We live here; nobody has more to gain from Northern Ireland succeeding, and nobody has more to lose if it fails.
“If Ms von der Leyen is indeed serious about protecting the peace process then she really needs to engage with the party that helped write and implement the Belfast Agreement, and to listen to our concerns.”
Meanwhile, a statement from the TUV, in the name of East Londonderry representative Jordan Armstrong, asked: “What is the rationale for Mrs Von der Leyen claiming there is no alternative to the protocol?
“She says it is the only way to preserve peace. She tries to sell the myth that in order to appease republican terrorists the EU should be able to claim Northern Ireland as its own.
“She is effectively telling us that violence pays. That is no way to do politics.”
He added that “an obvious first step” of new DUP leader Edwin Poots should be that “the staff manning the border are pulled”.
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