The leader of the DUP against “the obligation to accept the laws of the courts over which we have no control”

Updated 2 hours ago

THE DUP LEADER said it was not acceptable for Northern Ireland to fall under the jurisdiction of a court over which it had no control.

Jeffrey Donaldson made the remark as he was pressed on the DUP’s position on the UK government’s demand for the EU to remove the arbitration role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) from the Northern Ireland Protocol .

Responding to questions from the media in Stormont, Donaldson was asked why the CJEU was not explicitly mentioned in his party’s seven tests to judge efforts to resolve issues with the protocol.

Donaldson said the competence of the ECJ fell under the fourth criterion defined by the party: “Give the people of Northern Ireland the opportunity to make the laws that govern them”.

“In fact, it’s part of my test – I want to know how the people of Northern Ireland are going to be treated in all of this,” he said.

“It is not acceptable that Northern Ireland has to accept the laws and the jurisdiction of a court over which we have no control and over which we have no say. This is not the way to go. “

Donaldson added: “We are very clear that the governance arrangements, how future measures and arrangements agreed with the EU are implemented, how they are governed is very important because there is a potential for future divergence between UK and UK. EU, and we don’t want Northern Ireland to be caught in the middle of it all again. “

Previously, Sinn Féin had accused the British government of shifting the targets by demanding the removal of the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Declan Kearney questioned whether the UK government was throwing a ‘dead cat’ on the negotiating table because the EU was about to ‘bluff’ by tabling proposals that would resolve the practical difficulties with sea trade. ‘Ireland.

However, Donaldson said there were “real issues” with European judges having the final say in trade disputes involving Northern Ireland.

The EU will present on Wednesday what it described as “far-reaching proposals” in an attempt to resolve issues related to the protocol.

Brexit negotiator David Frost said the ECJ’s oversight role in arbitrating any future UK-EU disagreement over the protocol must be removed if both sides are to resolve the stalemate on the contentious post-Brexit trade deal.

Critics of the UK government say it is now lifting a new red line as the commitment to date has focused on reducing day-to-day checks and processes on goods transferred from Britain to Ireland from the North.

Kearney, a Sinn Fein deputy minister in Stormont, told BBC Radio Ulster: “The problem throughout, and particularly in the past nine to 10 months, is that as we have attempted to double down and process these problems, the goalposts seem to continually change. from David Frost’s trading strategy perspective and I think now we are seeing the goal posts change once again.

“I think this can potentially be read in two ways.

It just might be a negotiating tactic. We are now approaching the point where hopefully all of these issues can be successfully resolved and we can actually see all the difficulties with the protocol eliminated and David Frost is just trying to raise the bar and bring a little more to it. warmth in the process of talks which will follow the publication of the European Union’s proposals.

“However, there is another scenario. And that is what they are at the moment, namely David Frost and the Conservative government, noting that their bluff has finally been called and that the European Union is indeed determined to bring forward proposals for background on all these areas – drugs, agro-food. food, customs and governance – it will actually bring certainty, simplicity and stability to our business sector here in the north and throughout the economy of the island and they are afraid of it.

“Hence the dead cat of the European Court of Justice thrown on the table.”

Kearney said it would be a “disaster” if the British government moved away from the protocol.

Donaldson said he understood why the UK government was concerned about the ECJ.

He insisted that this was not a new issue and had been pointed out in the government command document on the protocol released this summer.

The DUP leader, however, declined to be drawn when asked if the issue would constitute a “red line” for his party.

He said he would not judge the EU’s proposals until he saw them, insisting his priority was removing the border from the Irish Sea.

Speaking at the Stormont Assembly this afternoon, Prime Minister Paul Givan highlighted the “harm” caused by the protocol, adding that it “is not working and a change needs to be made”.

“I look forward to the European Union’s proposals later this week, I look forward to the UK government as to how it will respond to this and get us to a place where the east / west no longer has barriers, and of course this is interdependent on the north / south relationship, ”he told MPs.


Nationalist parties had previously called on the DUP to drop their boycott of north-south meetings after a High Court judge declared the action illegal.

Donaldson announced last month that his party would withdraw from North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) meetings as part of its campaign to oppose the protocol.

At Belfast High Court today, Judge Scoffield said the decision to withdraw from the NSMC was illegal.

He added: “This frustrates, is contrary and violates the legal obligations contained in Part V of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.”

SDLP Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said ministers must meet their obligations under the Good Friday Accord.

She added: “The decision of the High Court is important and it demands an immediate response from the leadership of the DUP. The decision to suspend north-south cooperation was untimely, reckless and has now been confirmed as illegal.

It is time for the ministers involved in this boycott to step back and commit to respecting their legal obligations.

#open journalism

No news is bad news
Support the journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

Sinn Féin Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill tweeted: “The High Court has ruled that the boycott of the DUP from the North-South Ministerial Council was, and is, illegal.

“Ministers must do their job, act within the law and stop hampering progress. The NSMC is expected to accept € 1 billion in PeacePlus funding this month. This cannot be compromised by DUP play. “

Responding to the court ruling, a DUP spokesperson said: “The High Court judgment is further evidence that the conditions to trigger Article 16 are met.

“If a speedy resolution between the UK and the EU cannot be achieved, we call on the UK government to invoke the terms of Article 16 to prevent further deterioration of political and economic stability in Northern Ireland.”

Five DUP ministers have been named as respondents in the case, Prime Minister Paul Givan, Deputy Minister on the Executive Board Gary Middleton, Minister of Education Michelle McIlveen, Minister of Agriculture Edwin Poots and Minister of Economy Gordon Lyons.

Givan was asked about the court ruling during Ministerial Question Time in Stormont.

He said: “Obviously we will read the judgment that was handed down by the courts.

“When it comes to the functioning of the north-south institutions, my party has made it clear that we want to see all parts of the Belfast Accord respected, but they are interdependent, they are linked to each other and the east-west dimension was destroyed as a result of the Protocol.

Alliance Party MP Stewart Dickson said he hoped the DUP would now reconsider not attending North-South meetings.

He said: “Now that the High Court has made this ruling, there must be consequences for the actions of the DUP, including penalties where appropriate.

“However, I hope this will now lead the DUP to reconsider their decision.

It is vital that institutions can function and are not subjected to repeated threats.

TUV chief Jim Allister said the DUP had a choice of either facilitating the protocol or resigning.

He added: “The union dismantling protocol divides the UK and treats Britain as a third country.

“If you are a trade unionist and can only be a minister if you are an accomplice in this rampage, the only honorable way is to resign.”

Comments are closed.