LiveSinn Fein blame DUP division for creating 'difficulties' within NI Executive

Finance Minister and Sinn Fein MLA, Conor Murphy has told the new leader of the DUP Sir. Jeffrey Donaldson that Northern Ireland requires a "period of stability" if it is to respond effectively to both Covid-19 and Brexit.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 4:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 8:12 pm

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Sir. Jeffrey Donaldson.
Sir. Jeffrey Donaldson.

LIVE UPDATES: DUP & NI Protocol - Brandon Lewis talks down Edwin Poots’ claim that he promised ‘significant’ changes to protocol

Last updated: Tuesday, 22 June, 2021, 16:44

Sinn Fein blame DUP division for creating ‘difficulties’ within NI Executive

Following the confirmation of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson as the next leader of the DUP, Sinn Fein Finance Minister Conor Murphy said Stormont now needed a period of stability to deal with the challenges of Covid and Brexit.

He said: “There has been turmoil in the Executive for some time; it has been well recognised that the difficulties ongoing within the DUP have caused difficulties for the Executive.

“We want to see the Executive functioning. We are still in the grips of a pandemic, we have huge challenges in our health service, we have economic challenges facing us, we have the challenges of Brexit. So there is a lot to be got on with and we want a period to be able to do that sensibly and quietly and we don’t need this notion that there is some crisis brewing here.”

Reacting to the new DUP leader’s comments about the Northern Ireland Protocol creating instability, Mr Murphy said: “We want the Protocol arrangements to work. They wouldn’t have been necessary if it hadn’t been for the new leader of the DUP and his party colleagues pushing the hardest possible Brexit with the Tory party.

“That is why the Protocol was necessary, to try and undo some of that damage.”

Brandon Lewis talks down Edwin Poots’ claim that he promised ‘significant’ changes to protocol

Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, has played down the claim made by outgoing DUP leader, Edwin Poots, MLA, that he (Mr. Lewis) promised significant changes to the NI Protocol.

Mr. Poots briefed several media organisations on Tuesday morning telling them he had received promises from Secretary of State Lewis of “significant changes” to the NI Protocol in the coming days.

Mr. Lewis made the remarks answering a question put to him by fellow Conservative MP, Mark Harper.

“Some of Edwin Poots’ colleagues were commenting on the end of last week an announcement - the announcement wasn’t really an announcement - it was just confirming we had requested an extension to the the chilled meats issue and I said on the floor of this house last week that we do have issues with the NI Protocol.

“We are not going to allow that to continue, we want to get this corrected and I know the Prime Minister is refusing to take anything off the table.

“Obviously we wait to hear back from the EU because we would much rather work through it with the EU.”

Sir. Jeffrey Donaldson will be the next leader of the DUP

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is the only person who has been nominated to become the next leader of the DUP, the party has confirmed.

Confirming that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson will be the new DUP leader, party chairman Lord Morrow said: “Nominations for the position of party leader closed today at 12 noon. I can confirm that I have received one valid nomination, that being from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

“Following the completion of our party processes Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP will be the next leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

“The last number of weeks has been difficult for the party and mistakes have been made. Now is the time to move forward in a spirit of humility and mindful that our focus must be on serving the people whom we represent.

“I look forward to the challenges of rebuilding and reconnecting in the time ahead.”Confirming that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson will be the new DUP leader, party chairman Lord Morrow said: “Nominations for the position of party leader closed today at 12 noon. I can confirm that I have received one valid nomination, that being from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

“Following the completion of our party processes Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP will be the next leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

“The last number of weeks has been difficult for the party and mistakes have been made. Now is the time to move forward in a spirit of humility and mindful that our focus must be on serving the people whom we represent.

“I look forward to the challenges of rebuilding and reconnecting in the time ahead.”

In a statement, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP said: “The task ahead is great. I do not underestimate the challenge, but I know the overwhelming majority of people who live here want Northern Ireland to keep moving forward.

“I have the vision to lead unionism into its second century, by embracing those who believe in a Northern Ireland where people of all identities and none can live, work and raise their family.

“I have the vision to unite Northern Ireland and heal the divisions of the past. We don’t move forward by ignoring our past but by remembering and learning.

“I have the vision to lead a Democratic Unionist team who will inspire and command the confidence of those we are privileged to represent.”

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson continued: “The Northern Ireland Assembly is the place where every element of our society is represented. The coalition government is unwieldy, but it ensures every voice is heard.

“Such partnership is how we should move forward. It must be based on respect for each other’s mandate.

“To that end, I will be speaking with the Prime Minister at the earliest opportunity to emphasise that it is not realistic to expect stability when every unionist representative in the devolved institutions opposes the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“The Government and those who claim to be protectors of peace and stability must step up and deal with the Protocol in a manner which respects the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.

“I want to bring stability and encourage everyone to focus on what unites us as a people rather than on what divides us. There has been too much focus on division and recrimination both within unionism and within Northern Ireland.

“I will play my part but the Government and Brussels must step up and recognise the flaws of the Protocol and how it was foisted upon Northern Ireland.”

Deadline for nominations has passed

Nominations have closed in the election of the next leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland.

Outgoing leader Edwin Poots announced his intention to resign last Thursday following an internal party revolt just weeks after taking over the leadership from Arlene Foster.

12 o’clock countdown is on for Sir. Jeffrey Donaldson and he could be unveiled as Edwin Poots’ successor later today

Sir. Jeffrey Donaldson could become the new leader of the DUP if no one else puts their name forward to succeed Edwin Poots.

The deadline for official leadership race submissions is 12 o’clock today.

It is believed Mr. Donaldson’s bid to take control of the party will go unchallenged.

Meanwhile, outgoing DUP leader Edwin Poots has said that he has received a personal assurance from the UK Government that significant changes will be made to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Poots, who was forced to announce his resignation as leader last week following an internal party revolt over his decision to proceed with nominating a Stormont First Minister, predicted there would be a “significant victory” on the protocol in July.

The UK Government and the EU are locked in a dispute over the implementation of the protocol, the part of the Brexit divorce deal aimed at avoiding a hard border with Ireland.

Under the terms of the deal, deliveries of chilled meats – including sausages and burgers – could be effectively banned from crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain to Northern Ireland at the end of the month.

The UK is considering unilaterally extending the grace period covering sausage shipments, something that Brussels has warned could trigger a retaliation.

But unionists are opposed to the protocol and have repeatedly called for it to be scrapped.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Poots said he proceeded with the appointment of Paul Givan as First Minister last week, because he believed he could oppose the protocol more effectively with a functioning Assembly.

He said: “My focus is on the Northern Ireland Protocol because that is what makes a constitutional difference to Northern Ireland.

“Yes, I have received assurances that there will be changes to the protocol and that that will be very significant, that the UK Government are not going to tolerate how things are and how the EU have conducted themselves since the protocol.”

When asked if he had received the assurances personally, Mr Poots said: “Yes.”

He added: “We are looking to these changes happening in July, most likely early July.

“We believe that there is a significant victory to be won on the protocol. I will hand over at the end of June (to the new DUP leader) and hopefully most of the work will actually be achieved by that stage and we can make those gains.”

When asked what was the nature of the changes he had been promised, Mr Poots said: “We haven’t got detail but fundamentally for me the issues that really need to be resolved are the issues around the constitution because UK lawyers argued that the Act of Union was seceded by the Withdrawal Act.

“I want a very clear statement from the UK Government that that is not the case. The democratic deficit, nowhere else in the world are laws being made by 25 or 26 other countries for a country who has no say in those laws.

“How ridiculous is that, that people are signing up to an agreement which doesn’t have democracy contained in it? And then we have all of the trading issues of course, which have been highlighted over and over again. My ultimate desire is that the protocol goes in its entirety.

“We have been promised there will be a significant win on the protocol, that is what the Secretary of State (Brandon Lewis) is indicating at this stage.”

In response, Sinn Fein north Belfast MP John Finucane said Mr Poots had not provided any detail of the proposed changes he had been promised.

“I would be very reluctant to take what Edwin Poots has said today, I think I would want to see the detail because ultimately these are conversations between the British Government and the European Union.

“It is not within the Secretary of State’s gift as to what he does with the protocol – it is an agreement his Government entered into with the European Union.”

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