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Ex-DUP man mocks Ards and North Down council's 'weak and watery' border motion


Independent councillor Tom Smith

Independent councillor Tom Smith

Independent councillor Tom Smith

A DUP plan for contesting the Irish Sea border has been described as "weak and watery as diarrhoea" at a council meeting.

The claim was made at meeting of Ards and north Down's corporate services committee.

Councillors narrowly agreed to a DUP motion on the new Brexit trade border after the DUP chairman gave a casting vote on a split committee.

It will see the council write to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, outlining its displeasure.

But an ex-DUP councillor said the message would hardly have the PM "quaking in his boots".

The proposal, put forward by DUP Alderman Stephen McIlveen, says: "This council recognises that Great Britain is Northern Ireland's largest market and rejects any barriers to trade within the United Kingdom.

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"This council abhors the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has resulted in an economic border in the Irish Sea, causing an impediment to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

"It will write to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and the Prime Minister, setting out our opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol and our concern at the adverse impact it has on consumers, retailers and manufacturers.

"It will urge them to recognise the problems caused by this agreement and to take action, including under Article 16 of said protocol, to bring an end to this unfair and unconstitutional imposition on all the people of Northern Ireland."

However, independent councillor Tom Smith, a former member of the DUP, said the motion was "waffle" and "weak and watery as diarrhoea".

He added: "Here we have the so-called leading party of unionism, and what is the best they come up with? Let's just write a letter. I'm sure Boris is quaking in his boots at the thought.

"What do unionists want to know? They want to know what their political leaders are going to do practically.

"Writing a letter is not going to cut it, I am afraid. People want action from their political leaders, not in the streets, not anywhere else, but in Stormont and the other levels of government."

The debate began with a motion tabled by TUV councillor Stephen Cooper which asked the council to write to all unionist ministers in the Executive "urging a full and unequivocal withdrawal from all north-south institutions and cooperation until all east-west internal barriers are removed".

The motion was supported by independent councillor Mr Smith and one other independent councillor.

It was not supported by the other unionist parties.

Alliance councillor Nick Mathison forwarded an amendment that fell.

He said: "A special arrangement is needed for Northern Ireland. The protocol is regrettably all we have to work with."

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