NI Protocol: Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Jim Allister reject Micheal Martin’s claims

Unionist leaders have hit back at the taoiseach following claims that the Northern Ireland Protocol is “working”.
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DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Irish premier Micheal Martin’s comments, made during a visit to London where he met with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, show that “the Irish government is completely blind to the concerns of unionists”.

The TUV leader Jim Allister, meanwhile, described the claim that the protocol is working as a “blatant lie”.

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Sir Jeffrey, in an interview with the News Letter, also criticised remarks from Mr Johnson, who said that “significant changes” to the post-Brexit trading arrangements are required.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Dublin was 'completely blind to the concerns of unionists'DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Dublin was 'completely blind to the concerns of unionists'
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Dublin was 'completely blind to the concerns of unionists'

The DUP leader said: “What we don’t need is tinkering around the edges of protocol. What we do need is a replacement of the protocol with arrangements that respect Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.

“It is disappointing that over six months since the UK government published their command paper, that outlined the measures that they would take to protect Northern Ireland’s place in the internal market, that no such action has been taken.”

This comes ahead of an expected judgment from the Court of Appeal today to a case brought by several opponents of the protocol, who claim it is unlawful because it conflicts with the Act of Union.

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The case also claims that the protocol conflicts with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The High Court dismissed their challenge on all grounds last year, but the case was since brought to the Court of Appeal by the applicants and a judgment is expected this morning at a sitting listed for 10.15am.

Meanwhile, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson addressed the taoiseach’s comments, saying: “It is evident that the Irish government is completely blind to the concerns of unionists, in particular, about the harm that the protocol is doing – to both our economy in Northern Ireland and political stability.”

“The Irish government has stated that the protocol was designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the political institutions created by the agreement, and yet we see that the North-South ministerial council is not functioning and we do not have a functioning Executive at Stormont.

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“Therefore I am at a loss as to how the Irish government can state that the protocol is successful or can deny that it is doing any harm.”

He added: “It is their failure to recognise the damage the protocol is doing that will further delay the time when a solution to these problems can be found.”

Mr Allister, meanwhile, told the News Letter: “Maybe it [the Northern Ireland Protocol] is working in the sense that it was designed to break up the United Kingdom, but it is certainly not working for the people of Northern Ireland.

“The very idea that it is working in the context of the Belfast Agreement when the very institutions of the Belfast Agreement are teetering because of it, Mr Martin is obviously self-deluded about all of these things.

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“As for the prime minister, it is time he reasserted and retook the sovereignty over Northern Ireland back from the EU.

“That is the only territory that any solution lies in – taking back from Brussels their ill-gotten sovereignty over Northern Ireland. As prime minister of the United Kingdom that should be his top priority.”