Full protocol implementation would mean economic tsunami, says DUP

Implementing the protocol in full would result in “an economic tsunami” hitting Northern Ireland, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 7:16 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 7:44 pm

Responding to a tweet from a member of the US House of Representatives, the DUP leader said that calling on the NI Protocol to be implemented in full was “such folly”.

He said: “Implementing the protocol in full means ending grace periods, with an economic tsunami hitting Northern Ireland.

“Power sharing only works with cross-community consensus. There is no unionist support for the protocol. The protocol will destroy the GFA if not dealt with.”

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A haulage lorry drives under a Stena Line sign at the Belfast Harbour Estate welcoming travellers to the Port of Belfast. Picture date: Tuesday May 17, 2022.

US House of Representatives’ member Brendan Boyle had called on the UK Government to “implement fully the NI Protocol, which avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland, preserves the integrity of the EU Internal Market, and protects the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts”.

The DUP has refused to elect a speaker to the NI Assembly in order to put pressure on the UK Government to change or remove the protocol.

A US delegation is currently visiting Ireland, the UK and Belgium as part of a trade mission and to “underscore the significance of the Good Friday Agreement”.

DUP East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons said the DUP looks forward to engaging with the US delegation later this week, but added that “they must recognise that the protocol has undermined the Good Friday Agreement”.

“Since the protocol’s inception, not one unionist MLA or MP has supported it, yet it has continued to have the support of Washington throughout,” Mr Lyons said.

“Key influencers in the US administration have continually demonstrated a total misunderstanding of the Belfast Agreement, the border and consent.

“They should admit their one-side mistakes if they want to be taken seriously by unionists.

“It is high time the American administration recognised the fundamental importance of securing the support of both unionists and nationalists. Without such support devolution cannot function.”

There has been controversy over the NI Protocol since its inception.

Since its implementation in early 2021, the EU and UK agree that the protocol does not work as smoothly as it should, and both sides engaged in further negotiations.

Grace periods were introduced for some new Brexit trade rules in the protocol, meaning retailers and exporters do not yet have to adhere to all the checks and standards required.

The Foreign Secretary said she has discussed the UK’s “cast-iron commitment” to the Good Friday Agreement during her own meeting with US politicians.

Liz Truss said it was “great” welcoming a bipartisan US congressional delegation led by top Democrat Richard Neal, with topics of conversation ranging from the peace treaty to “the importance of free trade” and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Neal, the head of the powerful ways and means committee in the US House of Representatives, also spoke with International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Saturday.

Also yesterday, a a senior Labour MP warned Boris Johnson that the UK Government will damage the possibility of a trade deal with the US if it undermines the Belfast Agreement.

Urging both the PM and the EU Commission to “get round the table” to resolve outstanding issues, Hilary Benn said: “If the United States thinks that anything that Boris Johnson’s government is doing is going to undermine the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement or the workings of the protocol, then I think the UK will be waiting a very long time for a trade agreement with the United States of America.”

Speaking on the Sunday Politics show, former Cabinet minister added: “Now there are lots of other issues to be sorted out... but the US has obviously taken a long-term interest in what has happened in Northern Ireland... and that is why the Good Friday Agreement is so precious to everybody”.

Meanwhile, the Loyalist Communities Council said a call from the TUV for unionists to boycott Irish government ministers “has merit”.

In a statement, the LCC said: “The Irish Government has boycotted the loyalist community and its representatives since the protocol was imposed.

“Most unionists are in favour of dialogue but there comes a point when after a year and a half of talking and making representations, and for those representations to be repeatedly ignored, that those doing the ignoring should now be rebuffed.”

The statement adds: “Before taking such a decision however, I would suggest that the taoiseach be asked a simple question – does his government accept... that the core guarantees of the Belfast Agreement apply equally to both communities in NI? If his answer is yes then will his government amend its representations to the EU and the US to reflect the Belfast Agreement’s provisions and thereby end the Irish Sea border without further delay?

“If his answer is no, then there should be no further contact with or from any unionist.”