Former DUP leader Edwin Poots has said that the Northern Ireland Executive will not be the answer to people's problems this winter.
The support that will be needed with heating their homes, with rising food prices will come from the Treasury just as the Covid support came from the Treasury, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
“That is why the DUP is taking the stance that it has taken. We're not for moving on this issue.”
There wasn’t a “money tree” at Stormont waiting to be spent to heat people’s homes this winter, he said. “That’s just a fallacy that has been produced by parties who are critical of our stance on the Protocol.”
Were the Assembly and Executive operating fully, there would not be any additional money to give to the people of Northern Ireland. “Thus far the additional money has come from Her Majesty's Treasury, the envelope that we have, the block grant, has already been spent by each of the departments, in fact three departments are massively over spent as things stand, so there isn't this magic money tree sitting at Stormont waiting to be spent to heat people's homes, that's just a fallacy”.
Good Friday Agreement
The DUP position was reflecting all of unionism's position, he said. “In that no one accepts that the Protocol is the way forward for Northern Ireland.”
Mr Poots warned that the Good Friday Agreement had been established on the basis of cross community consent, but that had not been achieved. “Therefore there will not be an Assembly and there will not be institutions of the Good Friday Agreement whilst we have the Protocol. The two things are incompatible.”
Joe Biden visit
Plans for US President Joe Biden to attend a celebration to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement at Easter next year could instead be a funeral for the Agreement, he said unless the EU decided to become “a bit more realistic”.
“We want to see real and meaningful things happen before we allow that cross community consent that is required for something as controversial as this. In terms of the Protocol people may not understand why we are so resistant to it - if we had the full implementation of the Protocol as demanded by the European Union food supplies to Northern Ireland would be impacted within 24 hours and within 72 hours we would have empty shelves right across Northern Ireland.
“The reality is we have a situation where Great Britain is being treated like Peru, 75 percent of our goods come from Great Britain to Northern Ireland for the food that we import, those are distributed from stores in Britain, lorries are coming across with numerous items, the system cannot sustain it, so Marks & Spencer spends 20 hours doing paperwork to get a lorry load of goods in, with all the grace periods done away with that would take them 160 hours for one lorry load of goods. This is not some sustainable way forward.
“That is excellent for exports, an absolute disaster for imports and therefore if this is not resolved we cannot continue the way we are.”