Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland - Position Paper on Windsor Framework
Following the publication of the Windsor Framework, the Orange Institution has taken time to consult with its membership, political representatives, government and business.
We have measured the content of the Framework against our publicly stated opposition to the existing Northern Ireland Protocol.
At a meeting of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland on Saturday, 25th March a comprehensive review of the Framework’s content and impact was debated.
The Windsor Framework has delivered some limited, but welcome practical adjustments to the existing Protocol. These changes were brought about as a result of Unionism’s determined and united opposition to its implementation. However, it does not resolve the fundamental concerns which were articulated in the text of the Anti-Protocol Declaration of September 2021.
Many aspects of the Windsor Framework have been oversold. The proposed Green Lane is not a frictionless border. Substantial levels of bureaucracy which will disadvantage traders, hauliers and consumers remain and trade is clearly not unfettered as within Great Britain. If it were, there would be no need for a Green Lane.
The Windsor Framework continues to treat Northern Ireland as a place apart within the United Kingdom and equal citizenship has not been restored. Article 6 of the Act of Union remains in suspension and as such, Northern Ireland continues to be a ‘semi-detached’ part of the economic Union the Act created.
In order to address this situation, the United Kingdom government must create new legislation which reframes and protects the trading relationship between GB and NI so as to fully restore Article 6 of the Act of Union and create truly frictionless trade. The UK Government has the power and legislative authority to do this without the involvement of the EU as it would exclusively deal with internal UK trade issues.
The Windsor Framework does not address our other fundamental concern in that Northern Ireland citizens are still subject to laws made by Europe, and therefore subject to European Courts.
In order to resolve this matter, EU laws and in turn, the ECJ should only apply to NI goods manufactured for export to the EU.
Businesses will therefore have the option to opt-in to EU laws if they wish to trade in the European market, whilst the vast majority of our local business, which is carried out within the UK single market, would trade solely under UK rules.
Detailed legislation and regulations have yet to be drafted and there is therefore an opportunity to address genuine practical concerns of traders and consumers.
We believe there is still unity in purpose within Unionism, in that all parties continue to oppose the two fundamental issues that remain from the Protocol – namely the Irish Sea Border and the non-selective imposition of EU law on Northern Ireland.
Like the Unionist political parties, we want these issues resolved so we can continue to work to make a Northern Ireland a better place for all.
However, given the seriousness of the concerns outlined above, the Grand Lodge voted unanimously not to support a return to the Stormont Executive until there is substantial and tangible progress which resolves these fundamental issues.