| 16°C Belfast

DUP is stirring Protocol pot ‘to mask own failures’

Kearney slams ‘project fear narrative’ that doesn’t reflect reality


Sinn Fein's Declan Kearney

Sinn Fein's Declan Kearney

Sinn Fein's Declan Kearney

Sinn Fein’s Declan Kearney has accused the DUP of weaponising the Protocol in order to mask its own “failure of leadership and strategy”.

Writing in An Phoblacht, he said: “A project fear narrative has been whipped up by unionist political leaders which seeks to conflate identity politics with new trading realities.

"The Protocol has been weaponised to mask the DUP's failure of leadership and strategy. The shelves in our shops are not empty. The costs of our weekly shopping baskets have not increased.

"Real efforts are being made to smooth out difficulties with the operation of the Protocol.

"There is no threat to availability of cancer or other drugs, or medical supplies. Instead, the North's regional economy is poised to benefit from dual market access, with potential new foreign investment and new jobs.”

Mr Kearney said unionist apprehensions about the Protocol “should be logically and sympathetically addressed”.

He said the “dynamics of constitutional change” were clear. “These need to be discussed and managed. That's why so many within civic unionism are already pragmatically engaged with the debate,” the junior minister said.

Politics Unplugged

Sign up to Suzanne Breen's Politics Unplugged newsletter for expert analysis of what's important at Stormont.

This field is required

“Unionism is not a monolith. It contains thinkers who can anticipate change. Those who are strategically far seeing enough to recognise that it's better to prepare for ultimate negotiations, than wait until it is too late.”

Mr Kearney, who is party chairman, said dialogue about a “new, agreed Ireland” must involve “republicans, unionists, nationalists, loyalists, and those from none of these traditions, but who call this place home”.  

He added: “Every stripe of political and civic society should have its voice heard.

“A dedicated citizens' assembly on constitutional change would create both a forum and foundation to anchor this process of change in Ireland.

“Our approach to the process of constitutional change needs to be about inclusion not marginalisation.

"Republicans will be sincere and generous partners in helping to pioneer a path towards constitutional change and a new Ireland, with all sections of Irish society, and especially our unionist neighbours.”

Mr Kearney said that a “new exciting conversation” had begun about constitutional change: “It is growing in momentum,” he said.

“Those of us who espouse Irish unity need to explain the overall economic and fiscal benefits accruing from reunification and how we can guarantee an Irish national health service free at the point of delivery.

"We have to provide a persuasive vision of a new pluralist, multicultural, rights-based society, which will put reconciliation at the heart of its civic and political institutions.

“Brexit has detonated a constitutional earthquake at the heart of what has been known as the 'United Kingdom'.

“In more recent times the challenge of dealing with Covid-19 has had a major political influence on political perceptions and relations.

"So too has the English Tory government's drive to centralise political and economic power in Whitehall, and by extension reduce the autonomy of the northern Assembly, Scottish parliament and Welsh Senedd.”

Related topics

Top Videos