Johnson is to tell Stormont’s politicians to get back to work


Boris Johnson will urge Northern Ireland politicians to get power-sharing back on track as the government tries to break the deadlock with Brussels over post-Brexit trade deals.

The Prime Minister will travel to Belfast for crisis talks on Monday after the DUP blocked the election of a speaker at the Stormont Assembly and prevented it from sitting.

Government sources said Mr Johnson will use a series of private meetings to deliver a “hard message” that any “correction” to protocol must include the parties coming together to form an executive and assembly.

Boris Johnson will say parties must deliver on ‘bread and butter’ issues for voters (Victoria Jones/PA)

(PA wire)

He is expected to say that while the UK government will “do its part in ensuring political stability”, politicians must “get back to work” so that they can resolve “bread and butter issues” for voters can do.

Before his visit, however, Sinn Fein – which is now the largest party in the assembly after the May 5 election – accused the prime minister of “collaborating” with the DUP and supporting its “blockade tactics”.

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald said: “It’s very dangerous, it’s reckless, it’s a game of brinkmanship very cynically carried out by a Tory government in London that doesn’t care about the island of Ireland, either in the North still in the south.”

The DUP fiercely opposes the protocol as it requires controls on goods moving from the UK to Northern Ireland to keep the border with the republic open in line with the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald accused the UK government of colluding with the DUP (Sam Boal/PA)

(PA wire)

UK ministers have repeatedly said they will act unilaterally if an agreement cannot be reached to lessen the impact of controls that have been blamed for hitting businesses and stoking community tensions.

Ahead of his trip to Northern Ireland, Mr Johnson will attend the funeral of the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Party leaders, Mr Johnson, are expected to say in his talks that while the government will “always keep the door open for real dialogue” there will be “a need for action” to get the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) approved protect if this is the case no change in EU position.

He will insist that the government has never proposed scrapping the protocol and will recognize that there must always be a treaty governing the UK’s relationship with the EU in relation to Northern Ireland to allow for the return of a hard border with the UK prevent republic.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said his party had sent a “clear message” that protocol needed to be changed (Liam Mc Burney/PA).

(PA wire)

However, he will say the GFA’s “delicate balance” has been upset, eroding the historic economic ties between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and leaving the union community feeling that their aspirations and identity were under threat.

But on Saturday after a meeting of Sinn Féin’s government council in Dublin, Ms McDonald said the UK government had consistently failed to act in “good faith”.

“Let’s just be clear, protocol leads nowhere. The protocol is a necessary elaboration of the Brexit that the Tory party and the DUP have been campaigning for,” she said.

“The British government cannot use Ireland as a pawn, we will not be the collateral damage in the Brexit negotiations.

“It is very clear that the Tory government in London is in cahoots with the DUP to hold back and stall progress, to thwart the will of the people as expressed in the elections and that is for everyone , who calls himself a Democrat, is clearly unacceptable and clearly shameful.” Johnson is to tell Stormont’s politicians to get back to work

Bobby Allyn

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