Brussels has no concern for peace and stability in Northern Ireland: Dodds
DUP Deputy Leader and Peer Nigel Dodds has said the EU’s belligerent response to the rising economic and social damage caused by the NI Protocol proves that Brussels has no care or concern for peace and stability in Northern Ireland.
Responding to a stand-alone statement by European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, issued following his meeting with the UK’s negotiator, Lord Dodds said: “As the Protocol continues to wreak havoc on East-West trading relationships and does real damage to the set of political agreements on Northern Ireland, clear and decisive action is required to replace these arrangements. Permanent solutions to these fundamental and far-reaching problems are needed and needed quickly. “It is clear from these remarks that the EU is simply focused on protecting its own interests rather than securing long-term answers which benefit communities and businesses across our Province. Maros Sefcovic believes solutions can only be found through ‘full implementation’ and ‘full compliance’ with the Protocol. This belongs in the realm of fantasy, not political reality and negotiation. “Throughout the Brexit process Brussels has ignored the views of Unionists and trampled all over the founding principles of the devolved settlement, including that of consent. It has been quite happy to prioritise north/south trade over internal UK trade. “Even after all of this, it is staggering to hear a senior EU official claim the ‘Protocol is the only way to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement and to preserve peace and stability.’ This fails to appreciate the underpinning of those agreements, and lasting progress in Northern Ireland, is only possible when proposals specific to Northern Ireland command the support and respect of both the unionist and nationalist communities. “It has become increasingly clear that the EU’s legalistic and rigid approach is incapable of bringing about the real change needed to deal with the Protocol. “The Government must respond to this belligerence in a strategic and decisive way. Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market must be restored and the economical and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom protected.”
The DUP was earlier criticised by Sinn Féin, the SDLP, and the Alliance Party after it did put forward a minister to attend a scheduled North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) meeting on Friday.
First Minister and DUP Leader Arlene Foster said that no-one from the party was available to attend. The DUP has been boycotting some NSMC meetings over the party’s opposition to the NI Protocol in the Brexit agreement.
Stormont Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon claimed the meeting had been “blocked from proceeding because no accompanying unionist minister would make themselves available”.
“The DUP's obstruction is a deliberate act to undermine the Good Friday Agreement,” said the SDLP deputy leader.
“Their tactic of disruption and delay isn't going to work.”
TUV leader Jim Allister responded to news of the cancelled meeting saying: “I am pleased that today’s North South Ministerial Council transport meeting will not go ahead after the DUP failed to appoint a minister to attend.
“If this is the beginning of a sustained campaign to disrupt the workings of the North/South aspects of the Belfast Agreement it is to be welcomed and something which I have called for for a number of months. "There should be no ambiguity as to what is taking place today and why. If, as I hope it is, this is part of a campaign against the Protocol then it should be made crystal clear that this is the case. “The North/South links cannot continue as if nothing has happened when our East/West relations have been trashed. Nationalism, Dublin and the EU need to get the message loud and clear that Unionism will not simply “suck it up” when it comes to the Protocol. “However, such will only happen if the political action is determined and sustained. Therefore while today’s move is welcome it must be the beginning of a more robust political response to the Protocol and not something which the DUP find reverse gear on."