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New Salesman, Same Product? – TUV Newry and Armagh

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:

“While the salesman may have changed to one more experienced in the art, it remains to be seen if the if product is any different. It is certainly hard to point to any substantive difference between Sir Jeffery and either of his two recent predecessors on the basis of this morning’s speech. While criticism was directed at Dublin he did not commit to bringing the issue of our East/West relations being trashed to a head by boycotting the North South Ministerial Council. Nor did Sir Jeffery commit to instructing the DUP Agriculture Minister to withdraw the staff manning the Sea Border.

“Time will show what Sir Jeffery plans to do in relation to the Protocol in terms of robust, sustained political action. I am disappointed that this isn’t clear from the outset, particularly in circumstances where there is now a legal ruling that the Protocol makes the crucial constitutional change of repealing Art 6 of the Act of Union – something so fundamental about which no unionist can be complacent or complicit.

“Significantly, there was no explicit mention of Irish language legislation. There was, however, a reference to New Decade, New Approach remaining the basis for the restoration of Stormont.

“That deal, of course, includes an Irish Language Act in all but name. It will result in official recognition of the status of the Irish language in Northern Ireland – something the English language doesn’t even have. It will also see the establishment of an Irish Language Commissioner with statutory power to “protect and enhance the development of the use of the Irish language by public authorities”. Over time staff who are fluent in Irish will have an advantage when it comes to employment.

“I am disappointed that Sir Jeffery appears to have given up the fight on the issue.

“Whether it comes to Protocol, Irish language, legacy or any of the other multiple fronts Unionism finds itself under attack on at the present time the message I hear from voters is the same – Unionism has nothing left to give and demands action to protect our place in the Union. That is the case which I and my party will be making in the days ahead.”

ENDS

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