19 October 2022

DUP reiterate to PM they will not re-enter Stormont while protocol issues remain

19 October 2022

The DUP has reiterated to Prime Minister Liz Truss that it will not re-enter government at Stormont until issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol are dealt with.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson led a DUP delegation to meet with Ms Truss at Downing Street on Wednesday afternoon.

The meeting came after Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris confirmed he will call an Assembly election if the Executive has not been formed by October 28.

But the DUP has again insisted it will not nominate ministers until the protocol is replaced with post-Brexit arrangements unionists can support.

The Government’s Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would over-ride sections of the protocol, is making its way through parliament.

Earlier Ms Truss said she is “completely committed” to the bill and that negotiations with the EU will reflect “the same position”.

Following the DUP’s meeting with Ms Truss, a spokesperson said they discussed current issues related to the protocol.

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s ongoing commitment to the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill,” they said.

“We reiterated our position on the need to restore Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom so that we can have fully functioning political institutions in Northern Ireland.”

Earlier Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill said she is ready to lead a new executive today.

An Assembly election in May saw Sinn Fein overtake the DUP to become the largest party at Stormont and become entitled to nominate the next first minister.

Ms O’Neill made her pledge that she is ready to lead a new Executive during a virtual meeting with Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford on Wednesday.

She said they discussed “shared priorities in protecting people, businesses and public services”.

“Each of the devolved administrations face challenges as a result of this chaotic Conservative government in London who are doing huge damage daily which is impacting us all,” she said.

“I briefed First Minister Drakeford on the present realities where, six months after the historic election, power-sharing has not been restored because the DUP refuse to respect the outcome.

“We also discussed the fact that caretaker ministers will vacate departments in only 10 days’ time with nobody at the helm, and I made it clear that I am ready to form and lead an executive today to support workers, families and businesses through the cost-of-living crisis.”

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