Ian Paisley presses Boris Johnson to ‘deliver action’ over failures of NI Protocol
Ian Paisley has responded sharply to the prime minister’s promises to make the NI Protocol work – and has instead called on Boris Johnson to “deliver action”.
Mr Paisley wrote to Mr Johnson at the end of January raising his concerns about the operation of the protocol.
The mechanism, which keeps NI in the EU single market in order to avoid customs checks on the Irish border, has been blamed for causing huge disruption to Northern Ireland trade with Great Britain.
In his letter to the North Antrim MP, Mr Johnson assured him that the protocol was “a unique solution to complex challenges” but that he was clear that it must be given effect “in the pragmatic and proportionate way intended by taking account of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions”.
Given the risk of “significant disruption” to central services such as food supplies and parcel deliveries, Mr Johnson said, the government has set out pragmatic arrangements to allow movement of goods to continue.
The government has also “locked in” arrangements to ensure no trader will be charged for using NI ports. This allows time for all parties to adapt while government engages with businesses to address challenges that would “otherwise risk unacceptable impact on lives and livelihoods”.
In closing, the prime minister assured Mr Paisley the government will be “steadfast in safeguarding Northern Ireland’s place” in the UK and the smooth flows of goods, which will mean considering “all avenues at our disposal” in order to represent the interests of the people of NI.
A joint legal challenge by the DUP, UUP and TUV against the protocol is to be heard next month in the High Court.
Mr Paisley responded that most unionists will “note the words of this letter but wait to see real and tangible actions”.
He added: “The protocol has failed and caused enormous damage. The prime minister has a duty to protect Northern Ireland and restore the integrity of the United Kingdom.
“If the European Union cannot recognise the economic and political harm being caused by their protocol, then the prime minister must make good his words in this letter and use ‘all avenues at our disposal’ to ensure the integrity of the United Kingdom is restored.”
The MP said there are two-and-a-half times the number of checks in NI ports than at Rotterdam, the world’s 11th largest port.
“Whether it is ponies from Wales having to go to court to be saved from deportation, dogs being put through unnecessary veterinary procedures or livestock being trapped in protocol purgatory, it is clear the protocol has been a disaster economically.”
The DUP MP noted that 100,000 people have signed a petition to replace the protocol, and that every unionist wants it scrapped, adding: “It is time for the prime minister to put steel in his words and deliver action.”
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