Protocol damaging Belfast Agreement not protecting it, says Donaldson

DUP leader enters meeting with Taoiseach intent on setting out reality of situation in North

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson on his way into Government  Buildings on Friday afternoon. Photograph Nick Bradshaw / The Irish Times

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson on his way into Government Buildings on Friday afternoon. Photograph Nick Bradshaw / The Irish Times

 

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Jeffrey Donaldson has said the Irish Government is “persisting” in harming the relationship between Northern Ireland and Great Britain by its defence of the protocol that forms part of the Brexit agreement.

Mr Donaldson was in Dublin on Friday to meet Taoiseach Micheál Martin for the first time since he became DUP leader earlier this summer.

Speaking as he entered Government Buildings, Mr Donaldson said he would not make threats or demands but would set out the reality of the political situation.

“I will make it very clear to the Irish Government that the (Northern Ireland) protocol is undermining economic stability in Northern Ireland,” he said.

He added: “The protocol is causing a lot of harm to our political and economic stability.

The DUP leader said the protocol has been defended on the basis it protects the Belfast Agreement and its successor, the Stormont House Agreement, but argued that it was actually having the opposite impact.

“I am not in the business of threats. I am in the business of realpolitik.

“Our relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom will be harmed on a daily basis by the Irish Sea border and we are expected to go forward on a business as usual basis,” he said.

He contended it was not consistent with the Belfast Agreement which is based on three sets of interlocking arrangements.

“If you harm one you harm them all. The Irish Government persists in harming our relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom. Of course, that has an impact on our relationship with Dublin,” he said.