The leader of the New Federal Democratic Party in the Stormont Assembly claimed that relations between North and South «have never been worse».
Edwin Potts blamed «the Republic of Ireland led by Mr. [Leo] Varadkar and mr [Simon] Coveney in particular, «who said he had» sought to create barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, our main trading partner. «
He was responding to questions at the assembly on Tuesday in his capacity as North Agriculture Minister.
«As a result, every house has been damaged, and on the papers of the executive … in every area of health, in medical devices and medicines, we are in the red zone, an area that we have placed there as a result of a protocol that was heavily motivated by the former taoiseach and tánaiste,» he claimed Mr. Poots.
«So the relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are very bad and they have to be repaired, but we need some reassurances that we will get something much better than we currently are regarding the protocol to fix these relationships.»
Northern Agriculture Minister Nicola Malone said on Tuesday that she sought legal advice on the Democratic Federal Party’s boycott of some North-South cabinet meetings as part of its campaign against the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Trade unionists oppose the protocol because it sets customs and regulatory boundaries in the Irish Sea, and Mr Potts, as the leader of the DUP, has pledged to take a tougher stance against the protocol.
The absence of the Democratic Unionist Party meant that some of the council’s meetings were not able to take place.
“I understand that the DUP has a new leadership, but regardless of who the leader is, they have legal responsibilities and I am so concerned about this that I have sought legal advice from the Attorney General on this very issue,” said Ms. Malone.
Mr. Potts was speaking at the assembly in response to a question from SDLP (MLA) member Patsy McGlone, who was asked to «confirm that he will not obstruct any further North-South meetings».
The leader of the new Democratic Unionist Party also said that he “remained committed to all my duties as a minister in this delegated council” and went on to defend his record in North-South cooperation, referring to his role as a former health minister in the institution. Cross-border radiotherapy service at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry and agreement that pediatric cardiac patients from the North could undergo surgery in Dublin.
In response to a question from DUP MLA Keith Buchanan about recruitment costs incurred in Northern Ireland ports due to the implementation of the protocol, Mr Poots said the figure had reached nearly 24.5 million pounds (28.3 million euros) since June 2020.
Meanwhile, the FDP met David Frost, the British minister responsible for relations with the European Union, on Tuesday and called again for the protocol to be replaced.
Jeffrey Donaldson, a Member of Parliament for the Democratic Federal Party, said there had been a «direct and frank exchange of views» and they made it clear that the UK government «must act cautiously but decisively to restore the delicate balance of societal relations in the coming days».
«Lector profesional. Jugador galardonado. Aficionado a los zombis. Adicto a las redes sociales. Experto en tocino. Erudito en Internet»