First Minister’s divisive protocol approach ‘deeply regrettable’

Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP has said that First Minister Arlene Foster’s destabilising approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol is deeply regrettable at a time when politicians should be coming together to address the challenges facing our community.

The Foyle MP again called for a moderation in language at a time of heightened sensitivity which has seen those working on the implementation of the protocol withdrawn from ports.

Colum Eastwood MP said:

“I think it is highly regrettable that the First Minister has chosen to approach the challenges presented by Brexit in a way that will increase instability and heighten tension at a time of immense sensitivity.

“We should be very clear - the DUP, under Arlene Foster’s leadership, campaigned for Brexit. They said no to Theresa May’s softer Brexit proposal. They said no to alignment with the EU Single Market and Customs Union across these islands. They said no to every attempt to prevent the emergence of a new border in Ireland or in the Irish Sea. Their every political machination over the last five years has led us to this point. If there is an architect of the challenges that we face today, it is the First Minister and her party.

“I do agree with Arlene Foster, however, that the people of Northern Ireland are less free now than they were last year. Less free to live, work and enjoy the opportunities of membership of a common community of 500 million people. That isn’t the fault of a protocol, it is the logical conclusion of a deeply flawed political strategy.

“I regret the position we are in. But to place the blame with those of us who have attempted to mitigate this crisis and then to attempt to tear down those mitigations is divisive and destructive. We should be working together to address the challenges we face, providing certainty to businesses and hope to the people we represent. The spirit of disunity that has gripped our politics is dangerous and we should all be taking steps to defuse it.”

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