NI Protocol: Sir Jeffrey Donaldson tells Boris Johnson ‘we need actions, not words’

Actions rather than words are required from the government to break the Stormont deadlock caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol, the DUP has warned.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 15th May 2022, 6:59 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th May 2022, 7:11 pm

Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was speaking ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to the Province on Monday to hold talks with the main Stormont parties in a bid to get power-sharing restored.

His view was shared by unionist rival, TUV leader Jim Allister, who sounded a warning about the dangers of accepting “jam tomorrow politics” ahead of the prime minister’s visit.

The Stormont institutions have been plunged into crisis after the DUP refused to re-enter a devolved Executive following the recent election in protest at the contentious post-Brexit trading arrangements.

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Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the problems with the protocol need to be addressed

The prime minister’s visit comes amid heightened tensions between the UK and EU over the prospect of Mr Johnson moving to override elements of the protocol by way of domestic legislation at Westminster.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph reported that UK government ministers are braced for fresh unionist fury, with government sources indicating the protocol could mean Northern Ireland firms lose out on a proposed extension to a coronavirus aid scheme.

The newspaper reports that the government is considering an extension to the Recovery Loan Scheme, which would see loans of up to £2 million offered to firms with turnover below £45 million, but that EU state aid rules would mean only a reduced form would apply in Northern Ireland due to the protocol.

Ahead of Mr Johnson’s visit, Sir Jeffrey made clear that verbal commitments on future action would not suffice.

“The prime minister’s visit to Northern Ireland is a recognition that the protocol is not working and is harmful to Northern Ireland. Those problems must be addressed,” he said.

“We await to hear what the prime minister has to say, but we will not make judgments based on words. It is decisive action that must be taken. The problems have been clearly identified and I have set out seven tests against which action will be judged.

“Until that action is taken, the consensus necessary for power-sharing in Northern Ireland does not exist.”

TUV leader Mr Allister, meanwhile, said: “If Boris Johnson is coming to Northern Ireland to urge restoration of the Stormont institutions while the protocol remains – with mere promise of future change or just tough words – then, the response of unionists who recognise the dire constitutional consequences of the protocol, must be a firm and irreversible ‘No’.

“Unionists, most notably the DUP, surely have been fooled once too often by the PM to fall for any further blarney. No more ‘jam tomorrow’ politics!

“It would be utter folly to allow Stormont to function while GB is regarded, under the protocol, as a foreign country – a partitioning of the UK and alignment with ROI which Stormont would have to operate through the shameful Poots Posts. The imperative is that the iniquitous protocol must go.”