Pressure builds on DUP over new deal  

The framework removes the Northern Ireland Protocol’s barriers on trade across the Irish Sea and hands a “veto” to politicians in Stormont on EU law…reports Asian Lite News

Stormont leaders have urged the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to reach a swift conclusion over the Windsor Framework to unlock the power-sharing logjam.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with the leaders of some of the political parties during a visit to Northern Ireland to sell the benefits of the deal he has agreed with the EU on post-Brexit trading arrangements.

The framework removes the Northern Ireland Protocol’s barriers on trade across the Irish Sea and hands a “veto” to politicians in Stormont on EU law.

During a visit to a factory in Lisburn, the Prime Minister said the framework resolved the issues around the protocol and power sharing could be restored.

“They need to get back in,” he said.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill said there can be no delay in restoring power sharing.

Sunak met with Naomi Long, leader of the cross-community Alliance Party and Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie in Co Antrim.

The DUP and SDLP leaders are currently in London and Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill said she had spoken to Sunak on the phone.

The first minister in waiting said: “I welcomed the fact that a deal has been done and have told him to keep the positive momentum going to restore the Executive without any more delays.

“Sinn Féin has also met with key local business leaders today to discuss progress on making the Protocol work more smoothly with less bureaucracy, paperwork and costs. Our businesses need certainty and stability, and they are clearly hopeful that the deal struck between London and Brussels can secure that in the time ahead. It has been our firm view that any agreement must protect the all-island economy, prevent a hard border and safeguard continued access to the EU single market. The deal is done. People are now clearly focused on getting an Executive up and running and want all parties around the table working together to deliver for workers, families and local businesses. We need an Executive in place that will unlock the huge economic opportunities of the Protocol to create jobs, strengthen our local economy and help businesses to expand. It’s time the DUP ended its blockade of the Executive and worked with the rest of us to fix the health service, tackle waiting lists and help businesses, workers and families who are struggling with rising costs.”

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, whose party has been boycotting Stormont, said they would take time to consider the detail of the framework.

But other party leaders urged the DUP to get back to work.

Alliance leader Naomi Long said: “I think we are in the right space. Key for us now is we need to get this done. We need to get a decision from the DUP and we need to get back to our day jobs. We want to be sitting in committee rooms and in the Assembly chamber doing our jobs. In terms of trading arrangements between the UK and particularly Northern Ireland and the EU, we recognise this is a major step forward. This is the deal we could have had in 2019 if we had a serious prime minister who was willing to engage respectfully with the EU.”

Long did say her party had some concerns about how the Stormont brake, which allows the Northern Ireland assembly to flag concerns about the application of new EU laws on goods, would operate.

She added: “It remains unclear in terms of how it will function, at what level the trigger will be set.

“The one thing we do not want to do is to inject more instability into the institutions at Stormont.”

UUP leader Doug Beattie said: “I think the Stormont brake is one of those things which sounds good when you talk about it, but as soon as you start delving into it and understanding how it actually works, it throws up more questions than it does answers.

“But I can see the Prime Minister is working hard to sell this deal and we will work hard to scrutinise it. Anyone who is saying this should take weeks and months, I think, is being disingenuous. Any political party should be able to look at this and engage with their party at every level and come up with what they believe to be the outcome, certainly within a week or so. Stormont could be up and running now. You could have an Executive now, and at the same time we could be looking at this framework. You can do that at the same time. But if we drag this out for months then businesses will be sitting there not knowing whether they are coming or going. We need to hear from business, we need to know if it works for them. But there is no point dragging it out. People need to show the courage of their convictions, look at the deal, come up with your analysis and make your pitch.”

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