Northern Ireland Protocol – Joint Statement from Volt UK & Volt Ireland

Volt asks the UK government to stop playing hockey with a hurling stick.

Volt UK and Volt Ireland are deeply concerned about the current state of political deadlock in Northern Ireland.

Volt is calling upon the DUP and the British Conservative Party to end their  attempts to block the restoration of the Stormont institutions – and accept the NI Protocol. A clear majority of the MLAs elected in the NI Assembly elections on 5th May 2022 are in favour of the NI Protocol. The people of NI now need their elected representatives to get back to work and deal with the urgent issues that affect their lives – such as health, education and the cost of living crisis.

Northern Ireland now has a clear majority of Pro-Protocol MLAs. See the full election results:

Since 2016, the British Government has used Northern Ireland as a political leverage, both to deflect from internal problems within the Conservative Party, and to encourage the EU to provide a better trade agreement. Both communities’ interests must be respected, we don’t want unionists to feel that their place in the UK is threatened, but by revoking the NI Protocol, they’re not addressing the root cause of the problem.

Brexit is the real problem, not the NI Protocol. Indeed the NI Protocol represents the best possible solution to the three challenges of avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland,preserving the integrity of the EU’s single market, while respecting Northern Ireland’s place in the UK. The NI Protocol provides a unique opportunity for the NI economy – as its businesses have preferential access to both the EU and the UK markets and can exist simultaneously in these two economic zones. Recent economic data from the ONS has shown that Northern Ireland’s economy outperformed the rest of the UK due to the NI Protocol.

If we are to forge new and prosperous relationships between the EU and the UK, it is vital that we recognise NI’s special position within both as a post-conflict society. We need to negotiate in good faith, and build relationships based on openness, mutual trust and mutual respect.

This is not a constitutional issue but a simple recognition of the new realities of post-Brexit Europe. It is also about being reliable allies and good neighbours.

In order to ensure that the voices of NI citizens continue to be heard in the EU, Volt is proposing that the three seats previously allocated to NI in the European Parliament should be reinstated. Like everyone in the UK, the people of NI have lost the many rights and privileges of being full European citizens – but their voices still need to be heard as we build our ever-closer and ever-stronger European Union.

Volt is a pan-European party which values regional differences and cultural diversity as part of a strong European Union. Northern Ireland cannot afford to go back to the dark days of its past. Northern Ireland’s success benefits all – Northern Ireland, the UK, Republic of Ireland, and Europe.

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