Northern Ireland news

New DUP leader should be prepared to walk away from Stormont over NI Protocol, says Orange leader

The Grand Secretary of the Orange Lodge, Reverend Mervyn Gibson

THE new leader of the DUP should be prepared to walk away from Stormont in the fight against the Northern Ireland Protocol, a senior Orangeman has said.

Rev Mervyn Gibson, grand secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said the Brexit clause should be removed by whatever means necessary.

Speaking to the News Letter, Rev Gibson gave some views on the DUP leadership contest.

"For the sake of Northern Ireland's future, whoever becomes first minister or leader of unionism must be unambiguously, unequivocally committed to removing the Northern Ireland Protocol by whatever means necessary – as their priority," he said.

"Whoever it is - whether it's Edwin Poots, Jeffrey Donaldson, whoever - they must be prepared to do whatever means necessary as a priority to get rid of the protocol. If it takes bringing down the assembly."

Responding to criticism on Twitter, Rev Gibson later clarified that he was not calling specifically for the assembly to be pulled down.

"As we push for a political solution to the protocol I said that our politicians should have it as an option," he said.

"The protocol is the biggest threat facing the union it needs thwarted at all costs."

Kyle Paisley, son of the late former DUP leader Ian Paisley, described the call as "reckless nonsense" in a social media post.

"NI will not be saved by collapsing the only thing that stands between its present position and an unaccountable London-Dublin joint authority," he said on Twitter.

"If the next DUP leader collapses Stormont, NI will be lucky to see another 10 years, never mind 100, as part of the UK."

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