DUP will judge government on seven tests we’ve set out: Lyons

DUP economy minister in the last Executive Gordon Lyons has welcomed Liz Truss’ visit to Northern Ireland but urged the foreign secretary to act to restore the Province’s place within the UK internal market.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 7:24 am

Mr Lyons said the NI Protocol had damaged both the local economy and the Province’s democratic arrangements with Great Britain.

“It has created a border down the Irish Sea resulting in lengthy and time-consuming customs checks, increased bureaucracy, reduced availability of goods for Northern Irish consumers, supply chain disruption, and confusion for businesses surrounding taxes imposed on items deemed to be ‘at risk’ of entering the European Union through Northern Ireland,” Mr Lyons said.

“Progress is only made in Northern Ireland with the support of unionists and nationalists. If no nationalists supported the protocol, Washington, London, Brussels and Dublin would be demanding change. If this protocol had resulted in checks, costs and charges between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, there would be outrage.

Gordon Lyons

“The DUP has a mandate to see the protocol replaced with arrangements that restore our place within the UK internal market. We have set seven tests and that is what we will judge the government’s action against.”

The TUV accused the foreign secretary of “dancing around the issue” of the protocol’s constitutional implications on her one-day visit to the Province.

Councillor Harold McKee, the TUV’s South Down representative, said: “The foreign secretary’s acknowledgement of some of the difficulties business is facing with the sea border is welcome but until there is a clear acknowledgement that the core issue is constitutional the government is dancing around the core of the issue.”

He added: “Unless or until Northern Ireland’s full place in the United Kingdom is restored there can be no weakening on this issue. The problems which business face flow from the fact that Article Six of the Acts of Union has been subjugated by the protocol. The ‘Poots Posts’ are a manifestation of the fact that under the protocol Great Britain is treated as a foreign country. Unless or until that constitutional abomination is gone the problem remains. The protocol is irreformable and must go.”

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, meanwhile, launched a blistering attack yesterday evening on the UK government’s potential moves to override aspects of the NI Protocol.

Speaking in the Dail Mr Coveney described the UK’s claim that the procotol was incompatible with the Belfast Agreement as “disingenuous” and “dangerous”.

He said: “I find it deeply disappointing that the British government has said it intends to table legislation in the coming weeks that will unilaterally disapply elements of the protocol, which is now international law. This action is contrary to the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, where genuine trust and partnership between both governments have time and time again proved crucial to shared progress.”

Mr Coveney added that to unilaterally alter the protocol would be a “serious violation of international law”.