SDLP Assembly Group Leader Matthew O’Toole MLA has welcomed a ruling from the High Court in Belfast today quashing an instruction from former Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots to end protocol-related checks.
Mr O’Toole described the instruction as a ‘desperate electoral stunt’ earlier this year and called instead for a strategy that maximises the competitive advantage offered to businesses located in Northern Ireland from dual market access under the protocol.
Commenting on today’s ruling, Matthew O’Toole MLA said:
“Former Minister Poots’ instruction to civil servants to suspend checks required under the protocol was a cynical attempt to claw back support that the DUP was losing ahead of the Assembly election earlier this year. It was motivated not by the interests of the people of Northern Ireland but in the narrow party-political interests of the DUP and the High Court was right to concluded that the decision was ‘overtly political’.
“There isn’t a day that passes that the DUP maxim ‘the party comes first’ doesn’t jeopardise the interests of people in Northern Ireland just trying to get on with their lives. We’re seeing it even now with delayed energy payments, crisis gripping our health service and nurses on strike – but even still, the DUP’s boycott of government and of responsibility endures.
“Trade data published by NISRA this week leaves the Brexiteer refrain that our economy is on the ropes because of the protocol in tatters. We have an opportunity to promote the unique competitive advantage that businesses here have as a result of dual market access, enhancing our economy and providing new jobs. Instead of dealing in deadlock and division, we deserve people and parties who want to make this place work in the substantial interests of everyone in our communities.”