Sinn Fein 'very aggravated' after Northern Ireland Protocol talks

dougie beattie digital
Aden-Jay Wood

By Aden-Jay Wood

Published: 17/05/2022

- 08:20

Updated: 17/05/2022

- 08:22

Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in Northern Ireland yesterday to hold discussions with the main parties in Stormont

Sinn Fein are “very aggravated” after talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Johnson arrived in Northern Ireland on Monday for a series of meetings with the Stormont parties in a bid to restore the power-sharing government.

The PM was met with boos from a section of protesters who held aloft banners which read “Back off Boris” and “Protect The Protocol".

Speaking after the discussions, GB News’ Northern Ireland reporter Dougie Beattie said Sinn Fein, who are now the biggest party in the Assembly, are less than happy with the progress made.

Dougie said: “Sinn Fein came out of the talks yesterday very aggravated.

Northern Ireland reporter Dougie Beattie
Northern Ireland reporter Dougie Beattie
GB News

“You could see it in them, they accused the Prime Minister of taking the side of unionism.

“Unionism are saying he is the British Prime Minister and he should stand up for British business.

“You can see why, we’re talking about a food apocalypse on food prices."

He continued: “Northern Ireland is very much a part of that, it’s only three percent of the UK but it produces up to 20 percent of the food that comes into the UK especially dairy and chicken.

“You can imagine if goods are coming into Northern Ireland, and it’s taking more checks to get them in and then brought back to Britain.

“Well that cost is coming across one way and then its going back into the UK market.

“He’s also looking into legislation around the European courts of justice and where they would stand.

“I think Britain wants them to be just overlooking anything to do with Europe. So that’s all causing problems in and around the Protocol.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at Hillsborough Castle yesterday
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at Hillsborough Castle yesterday
Liam McBurney

While the Alliance Party described their meeting with Mr Johnson as “robust and very frustrating”.

Deputy leader Stephen Farry said: “We were giving him a very clear warning that if he plays fast and loose with the protocol and indeed the Good Friday Agreement, then he is going to be adding more and more instability to Northern Ireland.

“On the one hand, he is coming here with a certain set of stated outcomes, but all his actions belie what he is notionally trying to achieve.”

Speaking after his party’s meeting, Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said: “If the UK Government takes steps tomorrow or this week to fix some of the issues that we see with the Protocol, it is important that we then nominate a speaker and we get back to government and start doing the work.

“And if we do not get back into government, then we need to identify who is blocking it and we need to bypass them.”

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader Colum Eastwood had a similarly strong warning.

“If the British Government tomorrow signal their intent to break international law by legislating to rip up the protocol at Westminster, he (Mr Johnson) will not have the support of the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Earlier, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald described a “fairly tough” meeting with Mr Johnson, as she accused the UK Government of “placating the DUP”.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson rejected the idea that Mr Johnson was picking sides in the row over the Protocol.

“The idea the Prime Minister is taking sides is for the fairies,” he said.

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