Northern Ireland Protocol deal done, but ‘more work needed’: DUP

UK PM heads to Belfast for talks as progress is made between UK and EU on Brexit trade deal

Negotiations over a Northern Ireland protocol for Brexit will continue after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) says it has made progress towards a deal, but “further work is needed”.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson made the comments Friday, hours after British Prime Minister Rishi Snak met with Stormont’s leader in Belfast.

Speculation was mounting that the UK and the EU were close to reaching a deal on the future of the controversial trade deal.

But Donaldson, who told the media on Friday that progress had been made on a number of issues, said the final document was not yet finalized.

“Over the past 48 hours, we have been interacting with officials.[I]met with the prime minister last night and this morning,” he said.

“I have yet to see the final text of the agreement. Clearly there will be more discussions between the UK government and the European Union. But I think it’s safe to say that progress has been made in various areas. There are still some areas that need work.”

“If a final agreement is reached, we want to carefully consider the details of that agreement to determine whether it actually meets the seven tests,” DUP leaders said.

of DUPs 7 tests A list of demands made by the party to the British Government regarding the Protocol, including such issues as ensuring that goods moving between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom are unchecked and that the Protocol does not constitute Ireland’s borders. Masu sea.

“We have made it clear to the Prime Minister that these seven tests are the basis for determining the agreement,” Donaldson said.

“I have shown the prime minister that it is important and fundamentally important that he agrees to the right deal,” he said. “Brussels will try to recognize the concerns we have as Unionists and hope that this process will correct the mistakes of previous negotiations.”

Hope for breakthrough

The Northern Ireland Protocol is a trade agreement agreed to ensure the free movement of goods across Ireland’s borders after Brexit.

The arrangement would move customs and regulatory checks to the Irish Sea, create new bureaucracy for the movement of goods between the UK and Northern Ireland, and continue to limit trade in the region to the specific EU Single Market. subject to regulation.

Many trade unionists have vocally opposed the arrangement, claiming it would undermine the region’s standing within the UK.

The protocol issue is now at the center of the state’s political stalemate, with the DUP refusing to join Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government unless its concerns over trade deals are resolved.

Donaldson said Friday there was no specific timeframe outlined for further discussion.

“I don’t think anyone should be guided by a calendar,” he said. “The fundamental and most important thing here is to do it right. That has to be the ultimate goal. It’s about doing it right and getting it done.”

He added: ”

Asked whether the DUP was ready to compromise, Donaldson said the focus should instead be on whether the UK government would be willing to support the commitments contained in the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Donaldson’s hopes for a deal were echoed by other Stormont parties, including Sinn Fein, who met with the prime minister on Friday morning.

Epoch Times photo
Sinn Fein party leader Mary Lou Macdonald (left) and Vice President Michelle O’Neill leave the Culloden Hotel in Belfast on February 17, 2023. (PA media)

big test

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou Macdonald described the talks as “constructive” and said, “We believe that very important progress has been made and that an agreement is absolutely possible and absolutely necessary. I believe there is.

After meeting with Rishi Sunak in Belfast, she said, “I think the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is here to see what everyone thinks and listen to all perspectives.

“The DUP talks about their tests. But you know, there’s one big test for everyone, and it’s a test of what people expect,” she said.

“There is a test for everyone. Here is the test: Are you ready to govern? Are you ready to share power on an equal basis? We believe that we will be faced with

“It was a very constructive meeting and it was my first time meeting the Prime Minister, and I look forward to many more engagements with him in the future,” McDonald said.

“He acknowledges that the core parts of the protocol are working, and will find ways to negotiate and work out the parts that need smoother application, or, as he puts it, ‘the parts that didn’t work. We have expressed a need.’

“There is no doubt that a protocol is the result of Brexit, that a protocol is needed, and the Prime Minister has no doubt about that,” she said.

ticking box

After a meeting with the prime minister, Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said details of a potential deal had not been outlined.

“We are in a position to get something next week, but it may still take a few weeks,” he said of the prospects for an agreement.

“We don’t know and we won’t leave here knowing more than I knew when I first joined. But certainly the Prime Minister was enthusiastic, proactive and positive. It gave me something to take away.”

Beattie adds: He is confident that when he puts something on the table, a deal that he thinks works for everyone in Northern Ireland, it will be a deal the union can accept. ”

After meeting with SDLP leader Sunak Colum Eastwood “Details are scarce,” he said of a potential deal with the EU.

He said he believed Mr Sunak wanted to “check the box” of his involvement with political parties in Northern Ireland.

“I think he’s been very careful not to go into too much detail until the deal is done. I think that’s fair enough,” he said.

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said there was “some heavy work still to be done” to secure a protocol deal.

labor vote

The Northern Ireland talks on Friday came as British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley met in Brussels with Maros Sefkovic, Deputy Chairman of the European Commission on Interagency Relations.

Describing it as a constructive meeting, Cleverly tweeted: Intensive work continues. ”

Sefcovic said there had been constructive engagement and good progress had been made.

“Our common purpose is clear. A joint solution that addresses the everyday concerns of people at NI. The hard work continues,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Labor Party will provide the extra votes Rishi Sunak needs to pass the protocol through parliament, the shadow attorney general said on Friday.

Steve Reed told reporters: It is very important for everyone in the UK that this issue is resolved. Of course, that is a problem created by this government itself. ”

He added: “Workers want this issue resolved, so we are ready to give Rishi Sunak the extra votes he needs to get it through parliament. of their own ranks unwilling to resolve this issue that has caused division within the UK.

Regarding the Bill of Rights, Reed warned:

“What we don’t want is the same Prime Minister breaking the human rights law that underpins the Good Friday Agreement, because if he endangers the peace of Northern Ireland in that way it’s an unacceptable and irresponsible act. is. “

PA contributed to this report.