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Inappropriate DUP making the entire island suffer

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The enormous economic potential of the North’s post-Brexit special trade status is rapidly disappearing. The benefits of access to UK and EU markets are shrouded in loud arguments that have once again blocked power-sharing.

On May 5th, a majority of voters in Northern Ireland supported parties that can live with the principle of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Most of them just want the practical arrangements to be implemented better. That means they want EU-UK talks on how to better handle controls on British goods coming to the North to reach a compromise quickly.

So we have to consider the ‘others’ in Northern Ireland – and not just the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). A quick calculation of the vote percentages from the North Assembly elections is an instructive exercise.

The sum of the votes from the DUP and Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) was less than 30 percent just 11 days ago. The sum of the votes that went to other parties was well over 60 percent. These parties, to varying degrees, do not veto the new regulations in principle.

Many of these parties have raised concerns about how the necessary controls are being carried out on goods coming into the North from England, Scotland and Wales. The reality is that three things – avoiding a hard border in Ireland, the UK insisting on leaving the EU’s single market and customs union, and protecting the borderless single market – cannot coexist.

As early as October 2019, as the UK’s deadline for leaving without a trade deal with the EU approached, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed in principle on a compromise to resolve the clash of these three realities. Meeting in a country house near Liverpool, both heads of government agreed in principle on what we now know as the Northern Ireland Protocol.

In Ireland there would be “no hard border” and the UK could leave the EU entirely. But to protect the EU’s single market, which was 40 years in the making, some controls would need to be put in place to prevent the Republic of Ireland being used as a backdoor for inferior products.

A jumble of details remained about the scope and methodology of these controls on Northern Irish imports from Britain. The problem with this is that many important details were not anticipated. There was a sense of sorting things out with a “it’ll be alright in the night” approach.

Nonetheless, the price of full and equal market access for the North by the EU and the UK has always been, and always will be, worth fighting for. Northern Ireland has a population of less than two million people, while the EU has 450 million people in 27 states. 67 million people live in Great Britain.

But the DUP once again chose to focus solely on the negative rather than earning that best-of-all-worlds status. This reinforced his initially misconceived approach to Brexit from day one.

It is utterly unreasonable that people in every corner of this island should suffer from the DUP’s persistent negativity. It’s time to look at the big picture.

https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/unreasonable-dup-making-the-entire-island-suffer-41652608.html Inappropriate DUP making the entire island suffer

Fry Electronics Team

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