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UK must act ‘responsibly’ to stop ‘attack’ to scrap part of hated-Brexit deal, warns Sinn

On Monday, controversial legislation will be given its second reading in Parliament.

The UK Government has said the measures to remove checks on goods and animal and plant products travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are necessary to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and peace and stability.

Earlier, his vice-president Michelle O’Neill has accused Boris Johnson of acting “illegally” by his “clear breach of international law” over the Northern Ireland protocol revisions.

The North’s Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd said the Northern Ireland Protocol is working for businesses, workers and families.

The imposition of checks in order to keep an open border with the Republic has angered unionists.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said he hopes the bill gets through the Commons before parliament’s summer recess.

Capitals across the EU bloc reacted with outrage to the plans to override parts of the protocol, which governs trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.

The DUP has long opposed the protocol and is refusing to enter the power sharing institutions at Stormont until issues with the post-Brexit settlement for the region are addressed.

Mr O’Dowd said on Friday that efforts to pass the controversial legislation must be stopped, as he appealed to MPs to vote against the bill.

He said he had come from a business event with more than 400 delegates and that people there said the dual access to the EU market and the British market is working for them.

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Speaking on the day the Conservatives suffered a double by-election defeat in England, Mr O’Dowd warned that Northern Ireland should not be “collateral damage” as the prime minister’s leadership faces renewed pressure.

He said: “The attack on the protocol through this piece of legislation is an attack on international law. More importantly, it’s an attack on our business community, workers and families who are benefiting from it.

“So it has to stop and stop now, because the collateral damage that’s being caused to our society is of no consequence to Boris Johnson or his possible successor.

“But it does have huge consequences here and at this very late stage, the Tory party is going to have to act responsibly and recognise the democratic reality that the vast majority of MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) support the protocol and that the protocol is working for businesses, workers and families.”

He echoed Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s comments earlier this month describing the legislation as representing “economic vandalism”.

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Mr O’Dowd said: “What Boris Johnson and others plan to do on Monday is economic vandalism and it should be stopped and stopped now.”

He appealed across the benches at Westminster to vote against the bill and “not to be drawn into the internal fighting in the Tory party”.

The Bill will enable ministers to establish a “green lane” so trusted traders are allowed to move goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland without checks, as long as the products remain within the UK.

Products being placed on the market in Northern Ireland would be allowed to follow either UK or EU regulations, rather than having to comply with Brussels’ rules.

The legislation would also remove the European Court of Justice as a final arbiter in trade disputes over the protocol, with the function instead handed to independent adjudicators.

The Government insisted the Bill was compatible with international law under the “doctrine of necessity” which allows obligations in treaties to be set aside under “certain, very exceptional, limited conditions”.



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