Unionist leaders should not have met Taoiseach – TUV

Unionist leaders should not have met a “meddling” Taoiseach Micheal Martin in Belfast yesterday, the TUV has said.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 21st May 2022, 6:30 am
Updated Saturday, 21st May 2022, 3:56 pm

TUV Strangford representative Councillor Stephen Cooper said Mr Martin has no business lecturing unionists on what they can and cannot do regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Councillor Cooper criticised Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and UUP leader Doug Beattie for agreeing to meetings with the Taoiseach, who spent the day in talks with political parties and members of the NI business community.

“His (Mr Martin) belligerent meddling should be met with the contempt it deserves and frankly unionists should not even be meeting him. Bad as it was, the Belfast Agreement at least acknowledged that strand one matters - those which concerned the internal government of Northern Ireland - were something in which the Republic had no say.”

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The TUV's Stephen Cooper said the Taoiseach had no business lecturing unionists on what they can and cannot do regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol

The TUV councillor continued: “Now, because tens of thousands of unionists exploded the media-created myth that no one cares about the Protocol by voting TUV-No Sea Border two weeks ago, Mr Martin is panicking. Panicking because the territory-grabbing Protocol is threatened with derailment.”

He added: “Now is not the time to be accommodating to Dublin’s supposed concerns.”

Speaking after meeting the Taoiseach yesterday afternoon, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood accused Sir Jeffrey Donaldson of “playing a political game that he can’t resolve.”

“If you want to resolve any issues concerning the Protocol the British Government and the European Commission can sit down together in a proper negotiation and talk things through. That’s how everything gets resolved. But playing these kind of games will not sort any of these problems out.

“Jeffrey Donaldson can sit back and let the pressure build on him if he wants but my view is we should be sitting together working on the people’s priorities,” Mr Eastwood said.

Challenged as to why the DUP leader wouldn’t bend to pressure from the other parties let alone the British, Irish and US Governments, the Foyle MP added: “It’s really about us though, it’s about the people out there. And the people I am speaking to are absolutely furious that they all went out and voted weeks ago and now we don’t even have an Assembly meeting never mind a government being formed.”

Ahead of her meeting with Mr Martin, Sinn Fein vice-President Michelle O’Neill accused the DUP of “denying democracy.”