Top Orangeman: Michael D Higgins is an irrelevant foreign head-of-state
Leading Orangeman Mervyn Gibson has said that relations between unionists and the Republic’s government are at their lowest ebb for “many years”.
He said the true cause of this is the NI Protocol, and that whilst he does not believe Michael D Higgins is genuinely interested in cross-community outreach, he is “indifferent” as to whether he visits NI or not.
“As president of a foreign country, he was invited to this part of the UK for a service of reconciliation,” said Rev Gibson.
“He refused to come. I have no issue with his decision. It belongs to a foreign decision.
“Personally I’m indifferent as to whether he’s here or not.
“The fact is he’s the president of the Republic of Ireland and has no responsibilities for Northern Ireland whatsoever.
“This is Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom.
“We have a Queen – her majesty. We don’t need a symbolic second head of state.
“Higgins was never very good at fostering good relations. He certainly wasn’t President McAleese; McAleese was actively encouraging and engaging in conversations, etc.
“I support good relations ... but they’ve now been shattered because of the protocol.
“Relations with the Republic are the worst in many years. Relations were improving. They’ve taken a step backwards because of the protocol.
“Higgins is irrelevant.”
Rev Gibson was at a large-scale anti-protocol protest in east Belfast at the weekend, which he estimated had drawn about 1,000 people.
He said: “More and more people are wakening up to the fact that not only will they not get their Christmas goods from Marks & Spencer, but constitutionally we’ll get closer to the R epublic day by day as long as this protocol lasts.”
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