June 16, 2021
O’Neill tells EU ‘business wants Protocol to work’

Speaking after meeting with European Union Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič today, Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill MLA said:

“I welcome the opportunity to continue engagement with Mr Šefčovič today, along with my colleague Declan Kearney MLA.

“Having discussed the Protocol at the recent meeting of the Brexit Joint Committee, I gave my assessment of the operational realities five months in and how the Protocol is going.  This includes dispelling the myth that we face a cliff-edge and that our supermarket shelves are empty, which of course is nonsense. 

Michelle O’Neill added: 

“I have made clear to the European Union that neither the DUP or David Frost speak for the majority of MLAs, businesses or citizens in the North of Ireland on these matters. The Protocol is the result of a Brexit they championed, and a majority here rejected.  What it does is limit the impact. 

“I am talking to businesses and they want the Protocol to work.  They want practical solutions to problems without delay. 

They want the EU and British side to fix the problems through practical solutions without delay.  Nobody wants recurring extensions of grace periods, as it fails to provide certainty or stability for business long term. 

“I informed Mr Šefčovič that many local businesses across sectors of our economy, including retail, manufacturing and agriculture are taking the opportunities from having access to dual markets and also filling gaps in the supply chain. 

“Local manufacturers such as Doherty’s sausages will I hope supply supermarket chain Iceland, and others within my own constituency of Mid-Ulster will do likewise through supplying goods across Ireland, Britain and Europe.” 

She concluded: “The negative presentation of the Protocol by some fails to take account of the benefits and possibilities which can help strengthen our economy, create jobs and give us a competitive advantage as a region. 

“We need to have a balanced perspective and we need to reap the benefits of the special status within Europe we now have.” 

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