Stormont Responds To Protocol – Stormont responds to the change in the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The four pro-Remain parties in Stormont have written to the EU and to the British government asking that commitments about NI need to be kept in the Brexit deal.
This comes after a shock change to the custom plans post-Brexit that could severely impact the ability for NI to trade with the Republic of Ireland.
Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance, and the Greens urged the British Government and the EU to continue with the “rigorous implementation” of the NI protocol. The joint letter was published on Monday afternoon and was supported by the leaders of the four parties.
The letter states that “It is entirely unacceptable to the Northern Ireland parties that the UK Government would seek to abandon these safeguards and mitigations, which we believe would amount to a serious betrayal of an existing international treaty,”.
The parties believe that the NI protocol is “imperfect”, but they want to guarantee that there would be no hard border between NI and the Republic of Ireland as guaranteed by the Good Friday Agreement.
“It would represent a shocking act of bad faith that would critically undermine the Good Friday Agreement political framework and peace process and the UK’s ability to secure other crucial deals to protect the Northern Ireland economy.”
The NI protocol was agreed in October of 2019 and it was created to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland by keeping NI in the EU single market. This would enable the free movement of goods between the two countries but any goods entering NI from the rest of the UK would be subject to new checks, creating the “Irish Sea Border”.
Unionist parties in Northern Ireland are opposed to this deal because they believe that the NI protocol would damage the union between NI and the rest of the UK. The unionist parties have also tentatively agreed to the changes to the protocol put forward by Downing Street on Sunday.
Another round of talks between UK and EU negotiators have begun today and aim to secure a deal that would allow companies to continue to trade unimpeded without custom checks or extra taxes.