Unionist cooperation and political pressure are key to remove Protocol
Unionism has spoken with one voice, the Protocol which created the Irish Sea Border and has made Northern Ireland a place apart must be removed.
Following a series of meetings with Unionist leaders and their representatives, the Grand Lodge Officers are encouraged by the unanimity of purpose shown by the Unionist parties. The Orange Institution supports their collective stand and efforts to see the Protocol removed now, and without equivocation. There can be no tweaking around the edges or kicking this issue down the road in the hope that we learn to live with it – the Protocol is fundamentally flawed and must go now.
The spontaneous outpouring of growing frustration and sense of betrayal amongst the Unionist community over this last week has captured what many, including the Grand Lodge, have been conveying to the Secretary of State, his Ministers and officials over many months. Any border in the Irish Sea which requires paperwork or checks of any kind on products destined for use in Northern Ireland is totally unacceptable. We will not allow the economy of Northern Ireland to be re-orientated towards Dublin in order facilitate a United Ireland by stealth.
We call on our members and friends to support the removal of the Protocol through peaceful and sustained political pressure. Every one of us has a role to play. Engage regularly with all levels of local political representatives, encourage them in their actions and ask how you can best assist.
Let the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State know the scale of our displeasure by sharing with them the problems that this Protocol is causing both for businesses and individuals and ask that they respond to your correspondence. Share your experiences with the media, highlighting how we, as citizens of the United Kingdom, are being treated when we order goods from other parts of the UK.
We support the ‘first steps’ that all Unionists parties are taking in applying political pressure and await further sanctions and actions as required. We welcome the Parliamentary petition ‘Trigger Article 16’ - the rapid uptake of this initiative is a strong indication of the very real sense of injustice and anger within Unionism. We trust that the petition will raise awareness of the problems caused by the Protocol in Westminster and with our fellow citizens across the United Kingdom.
We understand that each political party has a different role to play and that they will advocate different tactics on how best to remove the Protocol. However, each assured the Grand Lodge Officers that they recognise that this issue is too important to play party politics with. The Orange Institution’s membership is drawn from all shades of Unionism and it is important that we respect each other’s views and each party’s commitment to removing the Protocol whilst encouraging maximum Unionist cooperation.
The Republic of Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has declared, ‘...the Protocol is not going to be scrapped.’
We call on our Prime Minister Boris Johnston (who has repeatedly reassured us that he is a Unionist), to exercise the United Kingdom’s newly recovered sovereignty by robustly responding on behalf of his fellow Unionists in Northern Ireland by evoking Article 16 immediately.