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DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds and Westminster Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson have outlined the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol to influencers in Washington.

Speaking after a virtual briefing Mr Dodds said,

"This was a very useful opportunity to set out the realities of the Northern Ireland Protocol. We appreciate the interest that many decision-makers in the United States have in Northern Ireland, but it is important their views are not shaped by a one-sided viewpoint.

Progress in Northern Ireland has been built on a respect for Northern Ireland's place within the United Kingdom and the three-stranded approach which maintains the balance of relationships across the British Isles. Protection of the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements is often cited as rationale for the Protocol whilst in reality they are undermined through its operation.

Placing barriers between Northern Ireland and our main market in Great Britain is not just economically damaging but creates the potential for political instability. Arrangements which respect Northern Ireland's place within the United Kingdom, and which protect the EU's single market can be put in place and provide an opportunity for real progress to be secured.”

Mr Donaldson added,

“It is important that lawmakers in the United States are aware of the impact the Protocol is having on ordinary citizens and businesses across Northern Ireland. The idea that a garden centre in Northern Ireland or a fruit and vegetable importer in Northern Ireland poses a danger to the EU Single Market is ludicrous yet that is the logic of the Protocol and its restrictions.

Those within Northern Ireland who were calling for "rigorous implementation" of the Protocol are now saying they recognise the reality of concerns outlined by those of us who have opposed the Protocol since its inception. The challenge is now to ensure that long-lasting solutions are put in place which deal with the root-cause of those concerns."