Social Democratic and Labour Party Brexit Spokesperson Matthew O’Toole MLA has accused the DUP of an egregious breach of its legal obligations following an order to civil servants to cease the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol at ports.
The South Belfast MLA said that maximising uncertainty for businesses in Northern Ireland as an electioneering tactic is unethical and unconscionable, particularly at a time when people across the North are experiencing real hardship because of the failure of government to deal with the cost of living crisis.
Matthew O’Toole MLA said:
“The order given to civil servants this evening is outrageous, not only because it places them directly at odds with legal obligations that stem from the Northern Ireland Protocol, but because it is nakedly about electioneering. The bar for standards in public life was fairly low for the DUP to begin with, but this is a further step into deeply unethical and unconscionable behaviour.
“The British Government has legal obligations under international law that it must uphold. It cannot stand idly by.
“People want a government focussed on addressing the serious challenges they’re experiencing every day – providing for their families, heating their homes, addressing the cost of living crisis. There is not one family the length and breadth of this island for whom this is the most pressing issue. The pretence that this is the biggest issue facing political leaders is a scandalous lie.
“The timing of this decision also raises serious questions about Edwin Poots’ judgment and fitness for public office. If decisions are being made in government in an attempt to influence or manipulate internal party selection processes, that would be an egregious abuse of power.
“Regardless of the motivation, this is a bad decision. It will not command the support of the Assembly or the Executive and it will be challenged.”