Northern Ireland parties describe ‘robust’ meetings with Boris Johnson

Mr Johnson flew into the region for a series of meetings with the Stormont parties in a bid to restore the powersharing government.

Dominic McGrath
Monday 16 May 2022 18:11
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (right), leaves Hillsborough Castle with colleagues Gavin Robinson MP (centre), and Edwin Poots MLA (left) (Liam McBurney/PA)
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (right), leaves Hillsborough Castle with colleagues Gavin Robinson MP (centre), and Edwin Poots MLA (left) (Liam McBurney/PA)

Stormont parties on Monday described “robust” meetings with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he sought to break the deadlock over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Johnson flew into the region for a series of meetings with the Stormont parties in a bid to restore the powersharing government.

The DUP is refusing to nominate a speaker to allow the Assembly to function, or a deputy First Minister to allow the Executive to be formed, until the UK takes action on post-Brexit trading arrangements which unionists regard as a border in the Irish Sea.

The party, led by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, has come under pressure from other parties to take part in government.

A sign at the Port of Larne about the Irish Sea border (Liam McBurney/PA)

The Alliance Party described the meeting with Mr Johnson as “robust and very frustrating”.

Deputy leader Stephen Farry said: “We were giving him a very clear warning that if he plays fast and loose with the protocol and indeed the Good Friday Agreement, then he is going to be adding more and more instability to Northern Ireland.

“On the one hand, he is coming here with a certain set of stated outcomes, but all his actions belie what he is notionally trying to achieve.”

Speaking after his party’s meeting, Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said: “If the UK Government takes steps tomorrow or this week to fix some of the issues that we see with the protocol, it is important that we then nominate a speaker and we get back to government and start doing the work.

“And if we do not get back into government, then we need to identify who is blocking it and we need to bypass them.”

Members of the SDLP, (left to right) Colum Eastwood MP, Claire Hanna MP and Matthew O’Toole MLA arrive at Hillsborough Castle (Liam McBurney/PA)

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader Colum Eastwood had a similarly strong warning.

“If the British Government tomorrow signal their intent to break international law by legislating to rip up the protocol at Westminster, he (Mr Johnson) will not have the support of the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Earlier, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald described a “fairly tough” meeting with Mr Johnson, as she accused the UK Government of “placating the DUP”.

Sir Jeffrey rejected the idea that Mr Johnson was picking sides in the row over the protocol.

“The idea the Prime Minister is taking sides is for the fairies,” he said.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in