Sir Jeffrey Donaldson address on the Northern Ireland Protocol

09 September 2021 - by Roisin Burns

On Thursday 9th September Sir Jeffrey Donaldson gave a keynote speech regarding the NI Protocol. The speech comes as the European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič begins a two-day visit to Northern Ireland during which he will hold talks with political and business leaders.

Donaldson stated he was using this opportunity to set out the party’s strategic blueprint for the months that lie ahead.

He reinstated that it was not the party’s wish to undermine the EU Single Market nor is there any possibility of the hardening of the border on the island of Ireland and stated:

That is why today I want to set out a timetable to see these issues resolved and to provide a window of opportunity for solutions to be found”.

Sir Jeffrey also highlighted the NDNA agreement stating, “the situation is further exacerbated when the New Decade, New Approach Deal is implemented on a one-sided basis and in the absence of the Government delivering on the NDNA commitment to ensure that Northern Ireland remains an integral part of the UK internal market”.

Donaldson announced four steps that he and the party were planning to take:

1) While the present protocol arrangements remain in place, Donaldson stated that it cannot be business as usual for north south relations. The DUP will immediately withdraw from the structures of Strand Two of the Belfast Agreement relating to north south arrangements, while ensuring important health related matters continue to be addressed on a cooperative basis.

2) Regardless of the position of the UK Government or of the EU, in the future, DUP Ministers would seek to block additional checks at the ports. DUP Ministers would use their votes at the Executive to frustrate any such additional checks, now or in the future.

3) The party will seek to examine the legality of the current checks and whether they should have required Executive approval as well. They will explore whether there is any scope to limit or eradicate the existing checks at the ports which are in addition to those which were in force at the end of 2020. If the protocol issues remain, then the position in office of DUP Ministers would become untenable. Donaldson stated that if the choice is ultimately between remaining in office or implementing the protocol in its present form, then the only option for any unionist Minister would be to cease to hold such office.

4) Donaldson stated that in order to maintain the adherence of Northern Ireland to EU law as it evolves, there is a requirement for Northern Ireland Departments and the Northern Ireland Assembly to pass regulations to reflect decisions at an EU level. It will be the policy of the DUP to seek to frustrate and prevent such alignment. Sir Jeffrey stated that the party will not accept a situation where they are required to endorse and implement EU laws, whilst having no say in how those laws are formulated.