Brexit: DUP should make NI government ‘unworkable’ until Irish Sea border removed, says loyalist activist

NI executive relies on power-sharing between parties

Matt Mathers@MattEm90
Wednesday 06 January 2021 22:58

A prominent loyalist activist is calling on the DUP to make Northern Ireland's government "unworkable" until the  Irish Sea border is removed.

Jamie Bryson, the editor of Unionist Voice, claims a move by the DUP to frustrate the Stormont executive would be the party’s “most powerful weapon”  in opposing the Northern Ireland protocol.

While the UK has left the European Union, NI remains in the bloc's single market for goods and will continue applying EU customs rules on trade.

Some unionists, including 30-year-old Mr Bryson, who recently published a book entitled, 'Brexit Betrayal’, say the arrangement poses an existential threat to NI's constitutional status.

They believe the Brexit deal has cut NI adrift from the rest of the UK, pushing Belfast further away from London, paving the way for an economic united Ireland.  

Mr Bryson told The Independent he thinks the DUP should oppose the protocol by frustrating Northern Ireland's political process.  

Civil disobedience and protest is not the answer, he added.

NI's fragile devolved administration relies on cooperation between its parties who share power together in the excutive.

The DUP voted for Brexit but opposed the Withdrawl Agreement, which set out the details of the protocol.

Some critics have suggested that while the DUP publicly continues to criticise the deal, its leadership has no intention of opposing it in practice.

A DUP spokesman told The Independent: "We opposed the protocol and voted against it in the House of Commons.

"We consistently warned both the May and the Johnson government about treading this path.  

"Sadly, despite our votes, the government used its 80-seat majority to pursue arrangements for NI that are both unnecessary and left uncorrected potentially damaging to the NI economy".  

When asked if the party had any plans to make Stormont "unworkable", the spokesperson added: "It would be a foolish idea to collapse devolution.  

"It would remove the party who opposed the NI Protocol and give all power for Northern Ireland back to the UK government, who created and implemented the NI Protocol.

"Sadly, despite our votes, the government used its 80-seat majority to pursue arrangements for Northern Ireland that are both unnecessary and left uncorrected potentially damaging to the NI economy.

In his book, Mr Bryson, who himself voted for Brexit, claims that nationalist concerns trumped those of unionists in the Brexit process.

A generation of unionists who were depoliticised by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement will be renergised by the Irish Sea border issue, according to Mr Bryson.

Since its introduction six days ago, there have been problems with the new mechanism. A handful of lorries have been held up for not having the correct customs paperwork.

North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley on Wednesday called for NI protocol to be removed, claiming that it is an "impediment to trade".

Mr Paisley, also a Brexit voter, told a House of Commons committee that a "blind man on a galloping horse" could have predicted the "unmitigated disaster".

"I think we have to recognise that those who advocated for the protocol have some responsibility for that," he added.

Responding, Seamus Leheny, of Logistics UK, said there is no alternative to the protocol and removing it could cause more chaos.

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