CONVERSATIONS around the Protocol became a high talking point among local politicians this week after DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson warned that the North’s political and economic progress was being “fundamentally undermined” as a result of the Protocol.
Speaking at the opening of a new constituency office for Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, Deborah Erskine, in Enniskillen on Friday, Sir Jeffrey claimed that EU-UK negotiations could not “drag on interminably” and must be brought to a conclusion “sooner rather than later.”
He told those in attendance, “Day and daily the pain and damage inflicted by the protocol is being felt in every corner of, and by every community.
“The protocol is costing our economy £2.5 million each and every day. Money which I want to see invested in delivering a stronger economy and improving vital public services.
He added, “Northern Ireland’s place within the Internal Market of the United Kingdom must be restored swiftly..”
Comments made by Sir Jeffrey in relation to the Protocol in Enniskillen are now being challenged by local representatives who have since described his latest remarks as a “threat” to Stormont.
“People in this area and right across the North are sick of this constant posturing from the DUP.”
“They are trying to hold us all to ransom in an attempt to gain sway to push their own agenda.
“The majority of people in the North are in favour of the Protocol.
“The people I regularly meet and deal with in our community have more pressing concerns than the Protocol. We are currently mired in a cost of living crisis that is affecting people right across our society.
“Energy bills are at record highs and little support has been forthcoming, inflation is rising while wages remain stagnant and welfare has been cut. We are in the middle of a pandemic and our health and education system is collapsing around us while people struggle to access decent housing.
“These are the issues our political leaders should be concerning themselves with, but they are more concerned with narrow battles over identity than building a better future for all our people.”
While Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, Jemma Dolan believes that the Protocol has helped protect businesses from the impact of Brexit.
She stated, “Over recent months a number of businesses have taken advantage of the North’s special status under the Protocol of continued access to both the EU single market and the British market.
“This has seen new investment and expansion with new jobs created as a result Businesses have cited the Protocol and the ability to access the EU single market along with well developed local supply chains in avoiding the supply problems created by Brexit.
“The most recent example is the Henderson Group, which own the Spar, Eurospar and Vivo brands, which has expanded over the past year and has further plans to do so.”
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