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DUP promises ‘graduated and cautious’ response to UK government protocol


The DUP will take a “gradual and cautious” approach to re-engaging with Stormont’s power-sharing – depending on progress on legislation to override parts of the Brexit protocol, party leader Jeffrey Donaldson has said.

Mr Donaldson described the government’s announcement to table legislation that would allow it to act unilaterally to change parts of the Northern Ireland protocol as a ‘welcome step if it is overdue’.

But he stressed that his party, which refused to return to devolved government in Northern Ireland in protest at the Irish Sea trade deals, needed to see actions rather than words from London.

A new executive can only be formed in Belfast after the recent election if the DUP agrees to fill the post of Deputy Prime Minister.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson (centre) leaves Hillsborough Castle after speaking to the British Prime Minister on Monday (Liam McBurney/PA)

The party has also refused to back the nomination of a new Speaker of the Assembly, meaning the Parliament Buildings legislature cannot meet.

Donaldson has made it clear that sweeping changes to protocol must be made if the party is to return to power-sharing.

Responding to the announcement made by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Tuesday, the DUP leader told the House of Commons: “From the start in this House, the DUP has warned of the consequences of this protocol and that’s why we opposed it from the start, because we recognized the political and economic instability it would cause and the harm it would cause the union itself.

“Today’s statement is a welcome, albeit late, step towards resolving the issues created by the protocol and re-establishing power-sharing based on cross-community consensus.

“Therefore, we hope to see progress on a bill to address these issues in days and weeks, not months, and as the legislation progresses we will take a gradual and cautious approach.

“We want to see the Irish Sea border removed and the government honoring its commitments in the New Decade and New Approach Agreement (the 2020 agreement which restored power-sharing) to protect the place of Northern Ireland in the UK internal market.

“Today’s statement indicates that this will be covered in legislation to bring in further revised provisions.

“Under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, power sharing can only be stable if there is consensus on a cross-community basis. It currently does not exist on the part of the Unionist community.

“We want to see political institutions working properly as soon as possible, but to restore the confidence of trade unionists, decisive action is now needed in the form of legislation to undo the damage done by the Protocol to Acts of Union and put in place reasonable arrangements. which, in the words of the Queen’s Speech, ensure the continued success and integrity of the whole of the United Kingdom, including the internal economic links between all its parts.

“Finally, Mr President, today’s words are a good start, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs will know that actions speak louder than words and I welcome her commitment to such decisive action in this statement at home.”


Alliance Party MP Sorcha Eastwood said Ms Truss’ comments offered no solution to the problems with the Northern Ireland protocol.

Ms Truss’ comments were being touted as a breakthrough, but that was not the way to go, it was not what companies were asking for, she told RTÉ radio’s News at One.

The issues could be ‘examined and dealt with’, she said, but she did not think a suggestion by Ms Truss of a dual diet was ‘a follower’.

There was a “hodgepodge” of suggestions emerging, she said. “That’s a lot of revamped ideas” combined together like a fig leaf to appease the DUP.

The other parties elected to the new Assembly were ready and willing to get to work, but it appeared that their votes had not counted because of the actions of the DUP. A change was needed.

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“We have a voice and we have the right to speak on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland,” Ms Eastwood said.

It was not enough for one party to resist and stop the work of others.

“Let’s continue the dialogue and make a breakthrough,” she urged.

-Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke