DUP Leader addresses National Press Club

DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP has told the National Press Club in Washington DC that Northern Ireland has only ever made progress when unionists and nationalists have moved forward together.

Sir Jeffrey said,

“Unionism rejected the NI Protocol from day one. It took others time to realise and recognise our objections. Whilst the Windsor Framework goes some way in addressing our concerns, there is still more work to do.

The Windsor Framework does not deal with some of the fundamental problems at the heart of our current difficulties.

As I said yesterday, it is my current assessment that there remain key areas of concern which require further clarification, re-working and change as well as seeing further legal text.

A key flaw in trying to proceed with the unworkable NI Protocol was the absolute disregard for unionist objections. Northern Ireland has never made progress if one side is trying to ride roughshod over the views of the other side. Mutual respect is the only route forward.

This week I have been emphasising the need for us to move forward together and secure a solution to the NI Protocol which outlives us all. A solution which can not only lead to a restoration of Stormont but can cement devolved government for the next generation.

Whilst some seem focused on the last 25 years, my focus is on the next 25 years.

Over the last few days in the United States, I have focused on growing our economy and boosting jobs in Northern Ireland and bringing stability.

Therefore I find it incredible that in newspapers across the USA this morning there is a full page advert from Sinn Fein calling for a referendum on Northern Ireland being part of the United Kingdom.

Whilst I am using my time in the US to impress upon decision-makers and investors the potential of Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein is drumming up hundreds of thousands of dollars for a divisive border poll campaign.

There is no evidence of growing support for Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom. Indeed, every major poll points in the opposite direction.

Northern Ireland’s future is with unionists and nationalists working together. A border poll would pitch unionists and nationalists against each other and lead to further divisions.

There is no place for my unionism or my British identity in a Northern Ireland outside the United Kingdom therefore the message from Sinn Fein is not one of working together but rather one of ourselves alone.”

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