We need to focus on pragmatic solutions after Supreme Court’s Protocol judgement, says Farry

Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MP has said that we need to focus on pragmatic solutions going forward after the UK Supreme Court’s ruling on the legality of the NI Protocol.

Stephen Farry Protocol

He was responding to the ruling of the UK Supreme Court, delivered this morning (8 February), that the Northern Ireland Protocol is lawful, following the unanimous rejection of an appeal brought forward by Jim Allister and others which had previously been rejected by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

He has stressed that the failure of the challenge to the legality of the Protocol should in turn focus minds on pragmatic solutions to the various issues relating to it.

The dismissal of this case by the UK Supreme Court is not surprising in the slightest, and simply reinforces previous judgements in the Northern Ireland Courts,” said Mr Farry.

Northern Ireland was always going to require some special arrangements in the context of a hard Brexit. This Protocol or something similar is therefore the inevitable outcome of choices made, and the consequent need to address this region’s particular circumstances and to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

Even under the Government’s unilateral Protocol Bill, which is currently parked in Parliament, Northern Ireland will be treated differently.

The nature of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland, and now Northern Ireland, has clearly evolved over the past two centuries, with 1920, 1949 and 1998 all being key landmark dates.

The Protocol itself does not change the Union. Northern Ireland has always done things differently and been treated differently by Westminster from its very foundation. Furthermore, the Principle of Consent is itself hard-wired into the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol.

There is no denying that the Protocol does present certain economic challenges on the Irish Sea interface. However, it does also gives Northern Ireland some advantages compared to Great Britain in terms of access to the Single Market for goods.

We must seek to minimise the problems, while maximising the opportunities here.

The only viable way forward lies with the current UK-EU negotiations. Any outcome will be based on pragmatic solutions, and it is time that all Northern Ireland parties place themselves in that head space.

A pragmatic deal on the Protocol and restoration of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement are essential to allowing Northern Ireland to work. Continued brinkmanship and stand-off is not only hurting people in terms of health, education and jobs, but undermining the cohesion and stability of this society.”