Derry & Strabane Council to write to Boris Johnson over G7 NI Protocol remarks

Derry & Strabane Council to write to Boris Johnson calling on him to implement the Protocol as agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement and to ‘stop unilaterally breaking the terms of it’.

Saturday, 19th June 2021, 10:31 am

Chair of the Business and Culture Committee Conor Heaney brought the proposal forward at its monthly meeting and expressed his disappointment on the remarks made by the British Prime Minister at the recent G7 talks.

“He has once again indicated that he is going to potentially breach international law and unilaterally move against the protocol. It makes our job as a Business and Culture Committee much harder to try and take advantage of some of the elements of the protocol which are clear given that we have access to both the British market and the European market and this city is well placed to take advantage of that and to try and draw in jobs into this region,” Colr. Heaney said.

DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney and UUP Alderman Darren Guy both spoke against the proposal with Ald. Devenney saying: “Many businesses are affected by it and it affects every sector of this community getting produce from the UK mainland. It’s causing severe pain to many businesses across Northern Ireland.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) and French President Emmanuel Macron, ahead of a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Cornwall. Picture date: Saturday June 12, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS G7. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) and French President Emmanuel Macron, ahead of a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Cornwall. Picture date: Saturday June 12, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS G7. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Ald. Guy added: “There’s obviously problems with the Protocol I would like to see it removed. We know that it is affecting a lot of trade east/west. It’s going to affect us all down the line at some stage whether it be prices, availability of food and other products, it has its problem and it has to be addressed.”

People Before Profit Colr. Shaun Harkin accused Sinn Fein of using the proposal ‘to polarise things’ before expressing his ‘shock’ that no protest had been organised for the visit of Tory MP Michael Gove when he visited the City on his way back from the Irish-British Council meeting in Enniskillen recently. “How could it happen that a Tory Minister was coming to Derry and we don’t organise a protest?” he asked.

Independent Colr. Gary Donnelly agreed with Colr. Harkin’s sentiments. “This is just a cynical attempt at politicking, there’s an election coming up,” he claimed, adding: “The problem with Ireland is partition, remove partition and you remove all the issues with Protocol.”

Sinn Fein Colr. Patricia Logue said that while there were issues with the Protocol “they need to be ironed out but there are great opportunities and people need to stop scaremongering about it putting prices up and it’s going to have an impact on produce – Brexit is doing that, not the protocol”.

Councillor Aileen Mellon seconded the proposal saying: “Before a united Ireland comes we have to find a way to make things work. No one said the Protocol was the best thing. The best thing was to stay as we were and a better thing for the north of Ireland would be to unify the country together as one.”

Independent Colr. Raymond Barr gave his backing to the proposal as did SDLP Colr. Rory Farrell, who said: “The Protocol isn’t perfect but it does present opportunities for the north. It was the key aspect of the Brexit deal that the British negotiated with the EU and they need to deliver on that. 

“I found it bizarre that this is about Brexit, Councillor Harkin spoke on it but didn’t mention Brexit or the fact that his party openly campaigned for it instead he has a dig at Michael Gove turning up at Destined.”

The proposal carried with 8 For, 3 Against, 2 Abstentions.

By Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter