Protocol: Continued Implementation

Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 20th September 2021.

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Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice 3:15 pm, 20th September 2021

T3. Mr Allister asked the Minister for the Economy who said last week that “if there is a choice between remaining in office or implementing the protocol in its present form, then the only option for any unionist Minister would be to cease to hold such office.”, whether he is therefore concerned that his colleague the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs continues to implement the protocol. (AQT 1573/17-22)

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

I hope that the Member will look at my record — what I have done in my Department and elsewhere — and at the position that my party has taken and that he can see where we stand in relation to the protocol. I understand the impacts that it is having. I recognise the problems that it is causing for our businesses. I want to make sure that we do all that we can to find solutions to the problems that exist, because it is harming our economic prosperity and opportunity. I am very clear that the protocol needs to go, as does the border in the Irish Sea. We need to have arrangements in place that reflect the reality of where we are.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

What does the Minister think is the message to London, Dublin and Brussels from those who say that they are opposed to the protocol but, at the same time, are implementing it?

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

I have made it clear what the UK Government and the EU need to do. We need to recognise the problems that exist as a result of the protocol. We need to understand that it is causing additional paperwork. We need to recognise the barriers that exist and the fettering of trade that is taking place. That recognition needs to happen. To a large extent, that recognition has taken place. What we need to see now is action. The message from me and my party is very clear: we cannot have sustainable institutions when our politics is being poisoned by the protocol. That is why we need to see action on it. The Government have given us some very fine words in recent weeks and months, but we now need to see action on the protocol, not because it is affecting one party or one tradition in Northern Ireland but because it is affecting everybody in Northern Ireland, whether you are a unionist or a nationalist. I see Mrs Kelly shaking her head. I can tell her that there are a lot of businesses in her constituency that are affected —

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

— by the protocol —

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

— and by the rigorous implementation of the protocol —

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Order, Members.

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

— which she and her colleagues called for.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Sorry, Minister. Order, Members. Let the Minister proceed. Thank you.

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Yet again, we have the failure to even recognise that there is a problem. There is a failure to understand the impact that the protocol is having on business, the paperwork that people are having to fill out and the fact that people are not delivering to Northern Ireland any more. When I went into my constituency office at the weekend, I got this from a constituent. It reads:

"I am very sorry as we are unable to send orders to Northern Ireland due to current Customs restrictions. Your order has been cancelled and refunded. With our apologies for any Inconvenience [sic] caused."

That is the inconvenience that is being caused by the rigorous implementation of the protocol.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Thank you. The time is up. The next Member has advised us that she is unable to be in her place at this time, so we will move on to Mr Patsy McGlone.