Rejecting the suggestion that growing concerns can be addressed by focusing on the positive impacts and opportunities presented by the implementation of the Protocol, Mr Paisley said:
‘‘This report is hugely aspirational and is not grounded on a practical understanding of the difficulties facing businesses and consumers as a result of trade barriers erected by the Protocol. For over seven months these arrangements have been wreaking havoc to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Doing business is now more costly and complex, fewer products are available, and there is a growing diversion of trade to markets outside the United Kingdom.
Such challenges will not be addressed by chasing hypothetical benefits or fanciful notions of having unfettered access to both the UK and EU markets. The current arrangements leave Northern Ireland semi-detached from both of these markets and any pursuit of new opportunities will be inevitably outweighed by the high cost of barriers to trade with Great Britain.
Notably, this report is unable to provide a single proven example of how the Protocol has benefited Northern Ireland either socially or economically. It goes on to encourage pragmatism from all sides but in the next breath tells us there can be no alternative to the Protocol. The DUP believes this position is unsustainable. The way forward will be through fundamental renegotiation, not remaining wedded to narrow political framework that has already failed.
I am also disappointed that the report seems to denigrate those who oppose the Protocol because they believe it weakens Northern Ireland’s constitutional position and their British identity. This is an entirely legitimate position to hold given the failure to respect Article 6 of the Act of Union. It is not something that needs to be counteracted. Ultimately the disruptive effects of these arrangements are not limited to one community or tradition and permanent solutions are required which command broad support.’’
Note to editors
The Report The Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol: Responding to Tensions or Enacting Opportunity? is authored by:
- Professor Peter Shirlow FAcSS
- Michael D’Arcy
- Alison Grundle
- Jarlath Kearney
- Professor Brendan Murtagh