DUP leader urges continued focus on push to remove ‘Irish Sea border’

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said his party’s efforts brought to the UK and EU back to the negotiating table.
DUP leader urges continued focus on push to remove ‘Irish Sea border’

Rebecca Black, PA

The DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has urged a continued focus on efforts to remove the “Irish Sea border”.

Talks remain ongoing between the European Union and the UK government, aimed at resolving issues surrounding the Northern Ireland protocol.

The UK's Brexit minister Lord Frost described last week a “significant” gap remaining between the UK and the EU.

While some progress on medicines was welcomed, the UK team was understood to be disappointed that there has been little in the way of progress on the flow of goods between Britain and the North, while governance and subsidy control remain points of contention.

Anti Protocol declaration
People queue up at Carlton Street Orange Hall in Portadown to sign a declaration in opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol. (Niall Carson/PA)

On Saturday, unionists in the North visited around 250 Orange Halls to sign a declaration against the protocol.

Harold Henning, deputy grand master of the Orange Order, emphasised the depth of feeling among unionists against the protocol in terms of trade and the impact on the union.

He said at this stage they were leaving it for politicians to “sort out”, but suggested rallies could be called in future if deemed necessary.

The DUP has urged the UK government to trigger Article 16 of the protocol, which would suspend parts of the agreement and risk a major escalation in tensions with the EU.

Mr Donaldson has also threatened to withdraw his party’s ministers from the Stormont Executive, effectively collapsing the institution if progress is not made over the protocol.

Addressing DUP party members on the same day, Mr Donaldson said they “remain committed to removing the Irish Sea border”.

“Left unchallenged it will damage our country and our union in the longer term. Northern Ireland’s place within the UK internal market must be respected and protected,” he said.

“As UK citizens, we should not be subject to foreign powers whilst all the time Northern Ireland diverges further from the rest of the UK.

“We have made progress in focusing minds on this. It is only through our determination that the EU and UK government are back at the talks table. Unionists should keep focused and together we can see a resolution to this.”

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