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The DUP’s Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has said attempts by the Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry and Naomi Long to dismiss concerns around the impact of the NI Protocol are utterly disingenuous.

Carla Lockhart said:

“I can understand why the Alliance Party would want to play down problems with the NI Protocol arrangements considering their determination to place a border in the Irish Sea after Brexit.

As far back as the referendum campaign, the Alliance Party, Sinn Fein and SDLP even talked up the prospect of a return to violence in Northern Ireland if the democratic choice of the people of the United Kingdom was to leave the European Union. After the result of the vote this despicable scaremongering tactic was then employed by the Alliance Party, alongside Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Irish Republic to argue for a border in the Irish Sea.

It is a matter of regret that our own Government bought into this narrative and placed greater value on placating this threat of violence rather than delivering the democratic will of the people of the United Kingdom, by imposing the Protocol.

Faced now with the consequences of their actions, the Alliance Party seek to downplay and dismiss the serious impact their Protocol is having on businesses and consumers in Northern Ireland. Naomi Long arrogantly dismisses those who are identifying problems resulting from the Protocol as engaging in Project Fear. Tell that to the haulier with lorries stuck at the port in Scotland, and is incurring additional costs running to tens of thousands of pounds in one week alone. Tell that to the mother who can’t source baby formula to meet their little one’s health needs. Tell it to the consumer who is facing reduced choice and higher costs because of the Protocol. To the farmer who relies on transit of pedigree livestock from GB.

These very real consequences are what the Alliance Party argued for. They are the outworking of the ‘rigorous implementation’ the Alliance Party, alongside Sinn Fein and the SDLP, demanded of the Government and of the EU in how the Protocol was delivered on the ground and in the sea.

We need these parties to take the concerns of businesses and consumers seriously, and work with us to find a long-term solution that overrides the very damaging consequences of the Protocol. Denials of reality and arrogantly dismissing it as project fear will not help those who need us to work together to find solutions.

I call on Naomi Long to reconsider this approach, recognise that the Protocol she argued for is disastrous for Northern Ireland, set personal pride to one side and recognise that we can and must do better for our people. Working together we can fix this, if the will is there from all parties. I hope others join us in working to this end.”