Unionists urged to ‘vote in strength’ as a voice of opposition to NI Protocol

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Sinn Fein being returned as the largest party would send a message of business as usual despite protocol issues.

23 April 2022

Unionists have been urged to “vote in strength” in the Stormont Assembly election to send a message of opposition to the Brexit Protocol.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson made the call with less than two weeks until polling day at the latest rally against the protocol.

He warned those gathered in Newbuildings, Co Londonderry: “Make no mistake, Sinn Fein winning this election will send a message to Dublin and Brussels, that it’s business as usual with the protocol. Unionists must use their transfers to support other pro-union candidates.

“Unionists need to vote in strength and for strength when it comes to the protocol”.

A parade took place ahead of speeches, organised by the North West United Unionists.

Sir Jeffrey shared a platform with TUV leader Jim Allister, PUP councillor Russell Watton and loyalist activist Jamie Bryson.

Mr Allister urged unionists to “come out in strength” on polling day.

“For decades Unionists have lived with the fear of constitutional change. That was what the IRA’s campaign of terror was all about. Rightly Unionists resisted these violent and anti-democratic efforts,” he said.

TUV leader Jim Allister with his party’s Foyle candidate Elizabeth Neely (TUV/PA)

“With the protocol, however, we now have the reality of constitutional change. As the recent ruling by the Court of Appeal shows, the Acts of Union have been ‘subjugated’ by the protocol.

“There has been a transfer of sovereignty with laws made not in London or Belfast but in Brussels. Laws we do not make and cannot change. Particularly on the mouth of an election that is something which should cause all democrats to pause and think.

“Unionists need to come out in strength on polling day and vote in strength and for strength in opposing the protocol.”

People take part in an anti Northern Ireland Protocol parade and rally in Grand Parade, east Belfast on Friday (Liam McBurney/PA)

The event is the third anti-protocol rally in as many days, following demonstrations in Belfast on Friday and Castlederg, Co Tyrone on Thursday.

The rallies have seen the outlining of unionist and loyalist opposition to the post-Brexit protocol, which sees additional checks on goods arriving into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

It is strongly opposed by unionists as a border in the Irish Sea.

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