The DUP’s Sammy Wilson has said real “economic vandalism” has been caused by the Northern Ireland protocol, as he responded to a warning made by Taoiseach Micheal Martin on the UK reneging on the agreement.
It’s after Mr Martin told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme that plans to scrap parts of the Protocol would be “an act of economic vandalism”.
Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster, Mr Wilson criticised the EU and Irish government for trying to convince unionists the protocol “is the best thing since sliced bread”.
“This kind of patronising attitude from both the EU and the Irish government is what really irks unionists,” he said.
"We’re almost told: ‘You don’t know what’s good for you. If only you would open your eyes and see that this Protocol is the best thing since sliced bread’.
He added this party “walking away from the Assembly is simply our way of saying we do not acquiesce with the position of the protocol”.
"Even if the Assembly were up and running… we would be opening the doors for these ministers who do want to implement the Protocol, to implement something we believe is destructive.
“How would you expect any unionists, whose views are simply ignored in the Assembly, to participate in an Assembly which is designed to work for the implementation of the Protocol?”
On Sunday, Mr Martin said the legislation to undermine almost all aspects of the protocol is not acceptable.
He also said that “if we look at any objective data, it is now showing that the Northern Ireland economy is doing very well. Manufacturing is doing very well”.
But Mr Wilson claimed that the Taoiseach was "focused on Dublin's interests".
In a statement, Mr Wilson commented: “For Micheal Martin to grasp on to one or two recent manufacturing orders as cause to celebrate the protocol, is misdirected and exposes a fundamental misunderstanding.”
Sinn Fein MP John Finucane was also on the programme on Monday, and he agreed with Mr Martin’s sentiments, adding his belief that “Brexit itself has been a large scale act of political and economic vandalism”.
He added that the DUP’s economic analysis around “all things Brexit since 2016 has been shown to be "very weak and flawed” and said the cost of living crisis and lack of health service funding in NI, compounded by the lack of a functioning Executive, is in itself “an act of economic vandalism”.