PROTOCOL LIVE BLOG: UUP, TUV react as DUP threaten to walk away from Stormont

Check in on the News Letter’s live blog for the latest as DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson threatens that the party is willing to walk away from Stormont over unresolved Protocol issues.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 9:59 am
Updated Thursday, 9th September 2021, 12:51 pm
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson raises the stakes in his party's battle against the Northern Ireland Protocol. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Presseye

In a speech this morning Sir Jeffrey said: “I say not as a threat, but as a matter of political reality that our political institutions will not survive a failure to resolve the problems that the protocol has created.

“Neither will they survive an indefinite ‘stand still’ period; urgent action is needed.

“As someone who believes in devolution and who seeks to return to the Assembly, this is not something I want to see.”

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His speech comes as the EC Vice President Maros Sefcovic arrives in Northern Ireland for a two-day visit which will include talks with political and business leaders.

He said that the EU has proved it is looking for every possible solution to the Protocol

Read his statement today here:

• FULL TEXT OF DUP LEADER’S SPEECH

• LOYALISTS BACK DONALDSON

In a statement issued this afternoon the Loyalist Communities Council welcomed and supported the measures outlined today by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson “to force an end to the obnoxious provisions of the NI Protocol that breach the Belfast Agreement”.

The council said: “The LCC hopes that HM Government and the European Commission will now realise the extent to which the Protocol is harming Northern Ireland and imperilling our peace process. If the Irish Sea border is not now rapidly abandoned all of Unionism will expect the DUP to honour the commitments made today.”

• UUP: WE PROVIDE SOLUTIONS, DUP PROVIDE THREATS

Reacting to Sir Jeffrey’s speech, UUP Leader Doug Beattie said: “Like the Ulster Unionist Party the DUP are setting out their opposition to the Protocol. Where we absolutely differ is that the UUP will provide pragmatic solutions and engagement while the DUP will provide threats leading to instability and further harming our people here in Northern Ireland.

“I certainly won’t be asking my party to withdraw from the Executive when we are still dealing with a Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences on a health service which is facing challenges on an unprecedented scale. We simply cannot afford to have the Stormont institutions collapse and people, not least those hundreds of thousands on waiting lists, won’t thank us for it.

“The Ulster Unionist Party has a different approach. We will engage constructively and put forward practical solutions as we seek to replace the Protocol. We continue to lobby rather than threaten. Unionism needs to show confidence in its own abilities. Now is not the time to retreat to the trenches.

“The UK Government’s Command Paper provides a potential pathway out of the Protocol mess and unionism should be using its influence within the democratic structures to hold the Government to account for delivering on it.”

• ALLISTER: FINE WORDS, LET’S SEE ACTION

TUV leader Jim Allister said: “Some fine words from the DUP leader this morning, but, of course, it is actions that count.

“Presenting the Prime Minister with the stark choice of saving the Protocol or saving the Stormont institutions is a long proclaimed TUV strategy, built on the realisation that if the price of Stormont is implementing the Union-dismantling Protocol then Stormont is unsustainable for any Unionist who puts the Union first.

“Likewise operating north-southery while our east-west links are trashed is utter folly.“The down payment on Unionist intent and determination should be the immediate ending of all DAERA checks.

“The Protocol - which the High Court says has already repealed the foundation of the economic United Kingdom - is a vehicle to destroy the Union, having already delivered us into a foreign economic zone and subjected us to foreign laws. Hence, it is beyond redemption. It must go. Mere tinkering is not an option, nor is repackaging it as something capable of being controlled through new Belfast Agreement institutions - such aids, not inhibits the Protocol and its building of the stepping stone of an all-Ireland economy.

“The acid test for any Unionist to any solution to this matter is this - is Northern Ireland still in a foreign single market for goods, under a foreign customs code, subject to foreign laws over which we have no say and overseen by a foreign court? If that remains the case it will be always unacceptable.”

• EASTWOOD SAYS TIME FOR POLITICAL THREATS HAS PASSED

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has called on political leaders in Northern Ireland to set aside ideological differences and work together to mitigate the challenges and maximise the opportunities of the Protocol.

He said: “That means being honest about the challenges that exist in terms of East/West trade or regulatory barriers to some new medicines and working tirelessly to resolve them. But it also means embracing the opportunities presented by access to two attractive goods markets and exploiting our position as a bridging destination. The time for political threats, insults and destabilising rhetoric has long since passed.”

• PSNI INVITE MORE SUSPECTED PROTOCOL PROTESTORS FOR INTERVIEW

In Co Armagh, the PSNI has hand delivered more letters to bandsmen inviting them to volunteer for interviews in relation to NI Protocol protests

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