February 3, 2021
No credible alternative exists to Irish Protocol which protects peace, jobs and stability – O’Neill

Speaking ahead of today’s meeting with European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and British Minister Michael Gove MP, Michelle O’Neill says that the Irish Protocol must work and that solutions must be found to support business and other sectors of our economy.  

While the Protocol is imperfect, it crucially protects the Good Friday Agreement; All-island economy; and avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

She is calling at today’s meeting for the mechanisms established in the Agreements which relate to the island of Ireland to be convened urgently; including the Specialised Committee, Joint Committee and Joint Consultative Working Group.

Speaking ahead of today’s meeting, the Sinn Féin Vice-President said;

“The parties which formed the Executive a year ago did so in order to provide both political leadership, stability and to confront the challenges facing people in their daily lives.

“Faced with the biggest health crisis in a generation, our priority is to protect our people and save lives which is paramount.  

“The other critical challenge has been to protect our economy and jobs against the backdrop of both the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit.

“The difference between the two, is that Brexit was avoidable, and its implications predictable.

“Those who campaigned and championed the cause of Brexit both here, and in Britain, must own the consequences.

“The DUP and Tories must shoulder their responsibility for the central role they have played in this self-serving and self-defeating strategy, against the wishes of a majority of voters in the North.

“While no Assembly party gave its support to the Withdrawal Agreement, and since the DUP sabotaged Theresa May’s Irish ‘Backstop’, the Protocol represents a compromise painstakingly negotiated by the European Union and the British Government.

“While the Protocol is imperfect, it crucially protects the Good Friday Agreement; all-island economy; and avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland.

“It must be faithfully operated with least disruption, and in a legally operable way which complies with the EU/BG agreement.

“It should not be used as a pawn by any party to the Agreement, or those who oppose it.

“The EU action in triggering Article 16 on Friday past caused justified anger and very strong criticism from Sinn Féin and others.  

“We welcome the fact that the European Commission reversed this appalling decision hours later.

“The Executive is united in condemning any threats made against workers and staff going about their duties at local ports.

“The police must provide reassurance to these public servants that they can safely do their jobs free from fear or intimidation.  

“I fully support both the workers and the police in achieving this.

“The DUP and other unionists have publicised plans which they know are not productive or achievable, and the wider community can see it is yet another dead-end strategy going nowhere.

“As we meet today with European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Chancellor Michael Gove MP, my message is clear.

“We need solutions to support business and sectors of our economy to ensure smooth trading operations, and we are calling for the mechanisms established in the Agreements relating to the island of Ireland to meet urgently; including the Specialised Committee, Joint Committee and Joint Consultative Working Group.

“They must meet with urgency and work together in jointly considering and addressing emerging problems.

“We need calm and mature political leadership.”

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