DUP hails progress on protocol but warns of ‘issues of concern’

The DUP has hailed “significant progress” in the new UK-EU deal on Northern Ireland, but party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said “there remain key issues of concern”.

In a statement on Monday, the DUP leader said: “We welcome the publication of the outcome of the Government’s negotiations with the EU which ends a period of speculation and spin, often from those who know little about Northern Ireland.

“In broad terms it is clear that significant progress has been secured across a number of areas whilst also recognising there remain key issues of concern.

“There can be no disguising the fact that in some sectors of our economy EU law remains applicable in Northern Ireland.”

The opinion of the DUP is seen as a key bellwether for the success of any deal, with the party’s backing crucial to restoring powersharing at Stormont.

Sir Jeffrey said that his party will now “study the detail” of the Windsor Framework, “as well as examining the detail of any and all underpinning legal texts”.

“Where necessary we stand ready to engage with the Government in order to seek further clarification, re-working or change as required.

“Ultimately the party will now assess all these proposed outcomes and arrangements against our seven tests, outlined in our 2022 Assembly election manifesto, to determine whether what has been published meet our tests and whether it respects and restores Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he understood parties in Northern Ireland would want to take time to assess the new deal.

“I also recognise that parties and communities across Northern Ireland will want to take the time to consider the detail of what we’re announcing today and we should give them the time and the space to do that, and I fully respect that,” he told reporters.