DUP not involved in ‘sticking plaster’ strategy to protocol points, Donaldson tells Taoiseach

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) chief Jeffrey Donaldson stated he instructed Taoiseach Micheál Martin he isn’t involved in a “sticking plaster” strategy to fixing issues with the Northern Ireland protocol in a gathering he described as “useful”.

The Taoiseach was in Belfast on Friday for talks geared toward breaking the political impasse attributable to unionist issues over the protocol and restoring a functioning Assembly and Executive at Stormont.

Mr Martin stated there was “no substitute” for negotiations between the European Union and the UK authorities to resolve points with the protocol.

Speaking following conferences with political and enterprise leaders, the Taoiseach stated: “We settle for official points have been raised, however it’s our view that they are often resolved.

“We had a really fascinating assembly with the Brexit enterprise working group and it was good to listen to the numerous useful impacts of the protocol on many sectors of the Northern Irish financial system.

“We believe there can be a resolution of issues around the protocol, but the only way to do that is through a negotiated settlement.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: ‘This idea that somehow the European Union is being inflexible on this is just not the truth, it doesn’t stack up.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin: ‘This idea that somehow the European Union is being inflexible on this is just not the truth, it doesn’t stack up.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

The menace stays of unilateral motion by the UK authorities – which has stated it can quickly start legislating to put aside elements of the protocol it agreed as a part of the UK’s departure from the European Union.

UK claims

Earlier on Friday morning Mr Martin stated the UK authorities had moved “too far in a unilateral way” over its strategy to the Northern Ireland protocol, which was not in accordance with the spirit of the Belfast Agreement.

He instructed the BBC: “I spoke to Boris Johnson and I have to nail this, this idea that somehow the European Union is being inflexible on this is just not the truth, it doesn’t stack up.”

Speaking after the assembly on Friday, DUP chief Mr Donaldson stated: “We spelled it out very clearly to him [the Taoiseach] the issues with the protocol, the hurt it’s doing to Northern Ireland and that we’d like an answer, we’d like decisive motion to take care of these issues.

“We are usually not involved in a sticking plaster strategy, or tinkering across the edges, it must be basic change which respects Northern Ireland’s place inside the UK inside market and nothing wanting that can suffice.

“I think when the EU talk about proposals, they have a very limited mandate and that mandate is to bring forward ideas within the context of operating the current protocol, but that doesn’t deal with any of the issues that we have in respect of our relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom. ”

Mr Donaldson stated he wished to see the UK authorities publish its plans over the Northern Ireland protocol earlier than making any choice on restoring the Stormont political establishments.

He stated: “We were very clear we would not enter the institutions until the issues around the protocol are dealt with, I never said that was limited to the Executive. We want to work those institutions, we want them to be fully functioning but we are clear we need decisive action on the protocol.”

NI Assembly

Earlier Mr Martin stated there can’t be a scenario the place one political get together is refusing to permit the Northern Ireland Assembly to satisfy, saying it’s “unheard of in a democratic world”.

Following this month’s Northern Irish election, the DUP blocked the appointment of a speaker at Stormont as a part of its protest over the protocol, which implies the Assembly can not sit and there may be solely a caretaker Executive with restricted powers.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin in Belfast on Friday. Photograph: David Young/PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin in Belfast on Friday. Photograph: David Young/PA

On the protocol, the Taoiseach stated: “What has occurred now could be a sure unilateralism on behalf of the British authorities saying ‘our way or no way’ and also you don’t negotiate with the European Union on that foundation, significantly when you might have signed off on the settlement that you just now don’t like.

“Professional, serious negotiations between the United Kingdom government and the European Union is the only way to resolve this.”

‘Landing zone’

Also talking after a gathering with Mr Martin on Friday, Ulster Unionist Party chief Doug Beattie stated he proposed a “landing zone” resolution to the Taoiseach over points with the protocol.

Mr Beattie stated: “There is not any requirement on checks on items that come from Great Britain to Northern Ireland if they’re staying in Northern Ireland. If they’re going on to the EU single market then they are often checked, and all we have to do is make it possible for the scaffolding and the structure is put in place to make it possible for that may occur.

“That is the landing zone and we believe that landing zone will get people back into government. We asked the Taoiseach to make representations to the European Union to that effect.”

Truss assembly

Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney stated he has “made clear” to UK overseas secretary Liz Truss that the Irish Government opposes the UK breaching worldwide legislation.

Mr Coveney made the remark after assembly Ms Truss on Friday about ongoing issues across the protocol.

He tweeted: “I made clear Ireland’s opposition to the UK breaching international law. The UK needs to get back to talks with the EU.”

Speaking forward of their assembly, Mr Coveney stated “there can be no ambiguity” that Ms Truss was proposing to “break international law deliberately” by way of the laws over-riding elements of the protocol. Ms Truss has stated she intends to publish a authorized assertion backing up her plans.

“She can justify that if she wants to in the House of Commons in terms of British law, but there is no ambiguity in my mind that this is a government choosing to legislate in a way to set aside international law that they themselves have been responsible for designing, ratifying and agreeing,” he stated. – Additional reporting PA

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