| 10.3°C Belfast

Jeffrey Donaldson says ‘it doesn’t matter’ who attends Lurgan anti-Protocol rally, as Doug Beattie’s UUP colleague set to march at event

Close

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and UUP leader Doug Beattie at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester earlier this year. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and UUP leader Doug Beattie at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester earlier this year. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and UUP leader Doug Beattie at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester earlier this year. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said it doesn’t matter “who does or doesn’t attend” an anti-Protocol rally scheduled for Lurgan on Friday evening, but rather that the “enduring message” should be about “unionists standing together in principled and united opposition to these arrangements”.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie had initially accepted an invite to share the stage at the event with Mr Donaldson, TUV leader Jim Allister, and loyalist activist Jamie Bryson. 

However, the Upper Bann Assembly candidate later said his party will not be involved in rallies that he believed were “raising tensions” in Northern Ireland.

Mr Beattie said last month that the anti-protocol rallies were adding to tensions, alluding to a security alert in Belfast on Friday which led to the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney being evacuated from a peace event.

Speaking ahead of Friday's rally, Mr Donaldson said: ‘‘My message tonight will be one of unionists working together.

“Unionism is fully entitled to express its unequivocal opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol in a public and peaceful way. I look forward to joining other unionists at tonight’s event and reiterating the DUP’s commitment to removing these arrangements.

“Not a single unionist representative supports the Irish Sea border. Indeed, it was cynically devised in spite of our concerns. More than that, it creates a democratic deficit for everyone in Northern Ireland. In the past two years, Brussels has imposed more legislation in our Province than the Northern Ireland Assembly and with no local consent. That is unacceptable."

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

While Mr Beattie will not be expected at the protest, his Upper Bann running mate, Glenn Barr plans to march at the event with his Orange Order lodge. 

The News Letter reported that the Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council will not be doing any public speaking – just marching with his band – with up to 60 bands expected to take part on Friday night.

Mr Barr initially said decision was conditional on getting approval from the party, but he later clarified that he had missed an earlier party message to say he was free to take part.

Asked if he was going against UUP policy to take part, he replied that he is “not participating as in getting on the stage”.

Mr Donaldson continued in his statement to reference the “bleak situation” which has arisen from the Protocol's issues, citing “the cost-of-living crisis and end of grace periods on the horizon”.

He added that “it is now 27% more expensive to transport goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain”, due to the protocol's paperwork costs and claimed that “millions of pounds are being lost from our economy each week”.

"Our opponents see the election on 5th May as an opportunity to weaken Unionism and divide the anti-Protocol cause. If they succeed, they will use the result to justify the status quo and force the Government to do nothing. We cannot allow that to happen. It is critical that our families go the polls and transfer down the Unionist ticket.

It is not surprising that Sinn Fein are pushing for a border poll at this election. The Protocol has attacked many of the benefits of being in the Union - free trade, a fully-resourced NHS and a high standard of living.”


Top Videos



Privacy