DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson: let people speak at the ballot box to reject the Northern Ireland Protocol

The DUP has been put on “election footing” following weeks of preparation, party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.

Saturday, 18th September 2021, 10:36 pm
Updated Saturday, 18th September 2021, 10:39 pm
We are now firmly on an election footing, says Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

He said the DUP executive met om Thursday evening and appointed East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons as the party’s director of elections.

“The party has been preparing over recent weeks but we are now firmly on an election footing,” Sir Jeffrey told the News Letter.

“If London and Brussels are failing to act on the concerns of unionism, then it is time to let the people speak with a loud voice at the ballot box and reject the [Northern Ireland] protocol.

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“We have had too many words about dealing with the protocol but not enough action.

“In any case, there will be an election in May but we cannot wait until then if the protocol remains. It is costing Northern Ireland an estimated £850m per year.

“Rather than my opponents attacking my ultimatum for an election, they should urge Brussels and London to deal with the flawed protocol.”

Sir Jeffrey said that reaching a solution to “the problems we face should be the prize that everyone seeks,” and added: “The root of our problems is the Irish Sea border and the imposition of checks on goods moving within our own country. Dealing with the root cause will create the stability to allow us meet the challenges in our schools and hospitals. Resolution of the protocol is not a question of technology or time. It is a question of political will.

“We will neither accept it nor will we work it. If solutions are not found and the choice is between remaining in office or implementing the protocol in its present form, then the only option for any unionist minister would be to cease to hold such office.”

Also speaking yesterday, Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said now is not the time to threaten the stability of the NI Assembly:“The Health Minister has once again asked for assistance from the military as we in Northern Ireland continue to fight against the Covid pandemic. This points to two things.

“Firstly, we have a Health Minister in Robin Swann who is not afraid to ask for help to support his frontline medical professionals. In a troubled world, this Union is becoming more and more important.

“Secondly, it is clear that any prospect of military help first needs a local minister in place to make such a request. Without an Executive we would not be able to ask for military help. Now is not the time to weaken devolution with threats to destabilise the Assembly.”

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