Irish Sea border remains after Stormont deal, claims loyalist Jamie Bryson

A meeting of unionists and loyalists opposed to the DUP deal which will restore the Stormont powersharing institutions has been told that the so-called Irish Sea border remains.

Around 120 people gathered at Moygashel Orange Hall in Co Tyrone for a meeting which was addressed by TUV leader Jim Allister and loyalist activist Jamie Bryson.

Among those in attendance was former DUP minister Jim Wells.

Jim Wells
Jim Wells (Liam McBurney/PA)

The DUP has given the green light for the recall of the Stormont Assembly, with powersharing due to be restored in Northern Ireland on Saturday.

The move comes after the DUP agreed a package of measures with the UK Government that party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson says has effectively removed the trading border for goods moving from Great Britain to, and staying in, Northern Ireland.

Mr Bryson told the meeting: “The DUP MLAs will be (Northern Ireland) Protocol implementers; playing a full and active role in the operation of the very thing which every unionist agrees dismantles the Union as we know it.

“And one of those MLAs, whoever that may be, will debase themselves and become joint head of an administration, alongside Sinn Fein, that will have a legal duty to build border posts, operate border posts and implement the subjugation of the Acts of Union.

“Here is the test for the unionist and loyalist people: if Sir Jeffrey Donaldson cannot convince Nigel Dodds, a DUP stalwart, on what basis can he hope to convince everyone else?

“The Irish Sea border remains with full force.”

Mr Bryson also said EU law would continue to apply in Northern Ireland.

“We remain subject to laws we did not make and cannot change.

“Every unionist now faces a choice: you implement the Irish Sea border for sake of pragmatism, or you stand against, come what may, as a matter of principle.

“I have made my choice, and I hope all in this hall make the same one.

“Stand firm, don’t give in.”

Mr Allister told the meeting Northern Ireland had been subjected to “the most astounding level of spin and hype”.

He added: “Northern Ireland tonight remains a rule-taker from Brussels.

“Control has not been taken back, sovereignty has been surrendered to Brussels over that vast panoply of laws which govern a significant part of our economy.

“Because they are EU laws, they are the identical laws that govern the same sphere of the economy in the Irish Republic.

Jim Allister
Jim Allister (Liam McBurney/PA)

“We now, as far as our goods economy is concerned, are ruled by precisely the same laws as the Irish Republic, not ruled by British laws, ruled by those foreign EU laws that we didn’t make and can’t change.”

Mr Allister said the Stormont brake element of the Windsor Framework, a veto on new EU laws applying in Northern Ireland was “useless”.

“It does not even apply to those laws already in place, it only applies, allegedly, to any alterations of those laws.

“What is the constitutional significance of Northern Ireland being governed by laws we don’t make and can’t change? The whole idea of being a sovereign country is that you make your own laws.

“Northern Ireland is now, in constitutional terms, what would be described as a condominium. That’s to say we are ruled in part by UK laws and we are ruled in part by EU laws.

“We are now ruled in that section of our economy like a colony of the EU.”