Northern Ireland Protocol: Chris Heaton-Harris invites parties to fresh talks - DUP demands Protocol progress

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson says he will attend round table talks called by the Secretary of State, but that there must be progress in Brussels and London on the NI Protocol.
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Sir Jeffrey was speaking after Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris invited Stormont leaders to engage in fresh talks ahead of a looming election deadline in the region.Mr Heaton-Harris has asked the main parties to attend a meeting next Wednesday in a bids to resolve the current powersharing deadlock at Stormont.Devolution has been in flux since February when the DUP withdrew its first minister from the ministerial executive in protest at Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.If a new executive is not formed by January 19, the Government assumes a legal responsibility to call a snap Assembly election by April 13.Commenting on the invitation by Mr Heaton Harris, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson reiterated his New Year Message that this can be "a seismic year for Northern Ireland" before adding, "but we must grasp the issue of the Protocol".He said: "I will be there and will remind the Government that the Protocol must be replaced with arrangements that restore NI’s place in the UK. We need to see progress in Brussels and London rather than just more talks."For those who have forgotten, political progress in NI was hard won and is built on the support of unionists and nationalists. Not one unionist MLA supports the Protocol. The idea that one section of our people will dominate the other and ignore the concerns of unionists will never produce durable or balanced outcomes."

TUV leader Jim Allister offered a similar response.

“Unless or until the Protocol is removed and Northern Ireland’s place as a full and equal member of the United Kingdom is restored there is absolutely no basis for any Unionist to operate the Belfast Agreement,” he said.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has called round table talks for the Northern Ireland Parties.Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has called round table talks for the Northern Ireland Parties.
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has called round table talks for the Northern Ireland Parties.
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“The restoration of Stormont currently would mean that Unionist Ministers will be back implementing the Protocol which is designed to ease us out of the UK.”But People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll called on the Secretary of State to outline government proposals for the restoration of the Executive.“The Tories have no plan for restoring the Executive and no strategy for dealing with the North,” he stated.