Northern Ireland news

David Trimble feels 'betrayed personally' by the protocol and says it does not safeguard the Good Friday Agreement

David Trimble claims the protocol does not safeguard the Good Friday Agreement. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

DAVID Trimble feels "betrayed personally" by the Northern Ireland Protocol and says the post-Brexit trade arrangements do not safeguard the Good Friday Agreement.

He says that "far from keeping the peace, the protocol risks a return to violence" and he argues for the implementation of "other mechanisms for dealing with cross-border trade".

The former first minister airs his thoughts on the east-west trade arrangements element of the Westminster-ratified withdrawal agreement in the recently-published ‘The Idea of the Union: Great Britain and Northern Ireland’, a collection of articles edited by John Wilson Foster and William Beattie Smith.

He documents the aspects of the 1998 peace accord that unionists found "unpalatable" but says he supported the agreement on the basis that "Northern Ireland’s constitutional position within the UK could not be changed".

However, he argues that the protocol has removed the "assurance that democratic consent is needed" to change the north's constitutional status.

The former Ulster Unionist leader – now a cross-bench peer – says EU laws apply to the north and not to Britain and that "no Northern Ireland input into these laws will be allowed".

He says the European Court of Justice can impose sanctions if its regulations aren't enforced and that if Britain sought to "make its economy more competitive in global trade" then these measures would not apply in the north.

"This massive change in the constitutional position of NI is already manifesting itself in economic disruption through physical checks on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, extensive bureaucratic requirements, a serious escalation in the cost of doing business between GB and NI, and time delays in receiving goods to the point where many GB firms have simply stopped supplying goods to NI," he writes.

"This political betrayal and these economic costs have already raised tensions in Northern Ireland. So, far from keeping the peace, the protocol risks a return to violence despite claims from its supporters that it is all about protecting the agreement."

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