Protocol ‘most serious situation since 1994 ceasefire’ says expert
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Northern Ireland plunged into a political crisis last Friday following local elections. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) refused to nominate a speaker over concerns around the Northern Ireland Protocol. They argue it undermines Northern Ireland’s position in the UK by putting a customs border in the Irish Sea and could trigger political instability. Without a speaker, Sinn Fein – the largest party in power – the power-sharing government cannot govern over Northern Ireland. Boris Johnson is flying to Belfast today for high-stake meetings in the hope to broker the political stalemate.
Speaking to GB News, political commentator John Coulter warned: “This is actually the most serious situation Northern Ireland has faced since the 1994 ceasefires by the terrorist organisations.
“We don’t want to go back to a situation where we have the Troubles with murder and violence.
“I think the fact that the Prime Minister is actually coming to Northern Ireland rather than using telephone diplomacy shows the seriousness not only of the situation but the seriousness with which Johnson takes this crisis.”
In the run-up to the implementation of the peace process, the terrorist organisation IRA announced a three-day ceasefire in April 1994.
Five months later, the IRA announced a “cessation of military operations”.
It is estimated that more than 3,500 people died during the Troubles. The conflict opposed nationalists to unionists. While the nationalists wanted Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom, the unionists wanted it to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Protocol has revived those tensions with the unionist DUP seeing it as a threat and the nationalist Sinn Fein wanting to unify Ireland.
Dr Coulter believes Boris Johnson has three options to broker the political stalemate. He could scrap it with the risk of a trade war with the European Union, force the DUP to get back to the Northern Ireland’s Assembly or get leading DUP politicians like Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to join Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in talks with the EU.
“That (the latter option) would put the DUP in a real spotlight because let’s not forget what is at stake here really is the peace process.”
GB News’ Presenter asked: “Honestly, John, do you think that there’s a real solution, a realistic solution that pleases all sides?
“There is a reason I call this the Irish trilemma because you can’t have a solution that pleases the unionists, the nationalists, the UK and the EU. Someone has to lose out”, the presenter continued.
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“This really is a high-stakes poker game for the Prime Minister”, Dr Coulter answered.
“He’s going to have to decide between the Protocol you mentioned there and stabilising the peace process in Northern Ireland.
“I think the compromise that he’s got to get here is to get a situation, an agreement where all the Northern Ireland particularly the Democratic Unionists can sign up to to get back in and kickstart the Assembly whilst at the same time preventing a very vicious economic trade war with the European Union.”
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