Mr Givan said,
“A poll where a vague question about ‘consultative role’ is asked, ignores the reality that the Republic of Ireland has no legal basis for the governing of Northern Ireland. Indeed, it would also be a breach of the Belfast and successor agreements.
Most people want to see the restoration of devolution. It is the Protocol alone that is stopping the formation of an Executive immediately. The warning that devolution and the Protocol could not co-exist was sounded 14 months ago by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, long before the last Assembly election.
The Protocol is harming Northern Ireland, and this is when we are not yet feeling its full effects. The ongoing grace periods being challenged by the EU and UK Government support have insulated us from those most devastating consequences. However, even this insulation comes at a cost with the Trader Support Service costing £365,000 per day to administer – that is £15,000 per hour. The cost of operating this scheme for a single day should be judged against the number of nurses salaries it could pay for a year.
The focus should be on replacing the Protocol with arrangements that can receive the support of unionists. That will provide a solid foundation for the restoration of devolution and we can get on with the task of reforming our Health Service through recruiting additional nurses and GPs.”
The Belfast Telegraph Lucid Talk opinion poll shows that in the absence of a functioning Assembly and Executive, roughly 40% want joint authority, whilst nearly the same number favour Direct Rule from London with absolutely no input from Dublin. The remaining proportion of around 20% have shown support for Direct Rule with some more vague notion of a ‘consultative role’ with the Republic.
The lack of any definition of this ‘consultative role’ doesn’t render that particular result meaningless, but it certainly raises significant questions about the certainty with which some people are interpreting it.