DUP Accused Of Being In 'Panic Mode'

The DUP have been accused of being in "panic mode" and "focused on their own narrow self-interest ahead of the interests of workers, families and local businesses".

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has described DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson's threat to quit Stormont if their demands over the NI Protocol are not met as "reckless, irresponsible and a short-sighted election stunt".

The DUP leader said that his party could quit the Executive to trigger a new election and would boycott "most north-south ministerial meetings".

Responding to Mr Donaldson's comments, Mary Lou McDonald said: "The position set out by Jeffrey Donaldson and the DUP today is a reckless, irresponsible and short-sighted election stunt.

"They are threatening the stability of the political institutions when we are in the midst of the Covid pandemic, when the Tories are putting families and workers under pressure with more cuts, and when there is big work to do on the issues that matter to people's everyday lives - on hospital waiting lists, on schools, on housing and on jobs, and on rebuilding our economy.

"The DUP is clearly in panic mode, driven by poor opinion polls they are focused on their own narrow self-interest ahead of the interests of workers, families and local businesses.

"Unionism has lost its political majority, the DUP is in disarray and their vote is in decline.

"We will remind Maroš Šefčovič today that the DUP do not represent or speak for the majority of people in the north who opposed Brexit and leaving the EU and are now assessing the merits of re-entry to EU membership through constitutional change on the island.
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"That majority believe that issues related to the protocol should be negotiated between the EU and the British Government but should not impact on the functioning of the Assembly, or the political institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.

"Jeffrey Donaldson and his party championed a hard Brexit along with the Tories regardless of its consequences for jobs, for workers and business.

"The Protocol is a result of this which aims to mitigate the impact of Brexit on business and people of this island.

"The Protocol was painstakingly negotiated by both the EU and British Government and protects the Good Friday Agreement; all-island economy; and avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland.

"It must be faithfully operated with least disruption, and in a legally operable way which complies with the EU/BG agreement.

"Any challenges must be resolved through the EU/BG Joint Committee, and we support practical flexibility in this regard.

"The Protocol does not change the constitutional position of and explicitly affirms the principle of consent as laid out in the Good Friday agreement.

"The Good Friday Agreement institutions of the Assembly, Executive, British-Irish Council, and North-South Ministerial Council and the participation of Executive parties and Ministers within those cannot be cherrypicked. The Ministerial Code requires Ministers to take part in North-South meetings. To not do so is a clear breach of the Code.

"This is a time for calm and mature political leadership.

"Sinn Féin will continue to provide that responsible leadership, we will continue to work to improve people's lives, and we hope that other progressive parties will stand with us in doing that in the time ahead."

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