Northern Ireland: Mary Lou McDonald criticises Boris Johnson
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The Prime Minister is meeting the major Northern Ireland parties at Hillsborough Castle in Belfast today in a bid to resolve the crisis linked to the hated Brexit deal. Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald hit out at Mr Johnson following the talks, accusing him of acting in “coordination” with the DUP.
It comes as the power-sharing institutions in Northern Ireland remain suspended with the DUP refusing to join Sinn Fein in a new Executive or to allow the election of a speaker to the Assembly unless there is a major change to the protocol.
It also comes amid heightened tensions between Britain and Brussels over the prospect of Mr Johnson tearing up parts of the contentious agreement, which has created economic barriers between the region and the rest of the UK.
Ms McDonald said: “There is an established mechanism through the Joint Committee to deal with those elements of the protocol that need to be smoothed out, finessed and altered.
“The Prime Minister is aware of that, the government in Dublin is aware of that, the European institutions are aware of that.
“And yet here we find ourselves in a situation where the British Prime Minister is quite willing to act in coordination with the DUP with very unacceptable obstructionist tactics.”
Ms McDonald insisted the UK Government’s priority was “placating the DUP”.
She said: “It’s very clear to us that despite all of the rhetoric from the British Government about re-establishing the Executive here in the north, that in fact their priority is placating the DUP.
“We’ve had what we would describe as a fairly tough meeting with the Prime Minister.
“We have put it to him very directly that the absolute priority is getting government working here in the north.
“People are facing incredible difficulties in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, and it’s simply not acceptable, it’s not good enough for anybody, the DUP or the British Government, to hold society here to ransom.”
It comes as tensions between the UK and Brussels are threatening to boil over with the prospect of the Prime Minister tearing up parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement that require checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to formally announce a plan to legislate on the protocol on Tuesday, although an actual parliamentary Bill is not expected to be published at that point.
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