DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said,
“Today the DUP will not support the election of a Speaker in the Assembly. In October 2019, Colum Eastwood said the election of a Speaker without the prospect of a functioning Executive would “lead only to the fundamental destruction of the Good Friday Agreement”.
It is disappointing the SDLP leader alongside the other pro-Protocol parties have been happy to support such a fundamental destruction of powersharing through the abandonment of the principle of consent and cross-community consensus.
Unionist concerns over the Northern Ireland Protocol are not merely some political squabble which is impacting upon Stormont. The Protocol is a direct challenge to the principles that have underpinned every agreement reached in Northern Ireland over the last 25 years. It erodes the very foundations that devolution has been built upon.
The economic and political damage to Northern Ireland we see now is merely the tip of the iceberg and will only increase significantly as time moves on. Both of those changes worsen the political damage. That is why I made it clear last September that doing nothing wasn’t an option.
Some parties who just a few months ago were mocking the promise of decisive action from the DUP in relation to the Protocol are the very same parties now feigning surprise and outrage at a political party keeping its promise to the electorate.
Devolution was restored on the basis of the New Decade, New Approach agreement. We have seen delivery of, or significant progress towards nearly every aspect of that document except one. That is the UK Government’s promise to legislate to respect and protect Northern Ireland’s place within the UK internal market.
Twenty-eight months since that promise was made and sixteen months since it should have have been delivered, unionism cannot stand accused of lacking patience.
I have both patience and resolve in equal measure to see the Irish Sea border removed and stable as well as sustainable devolution restored.