From Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP <[email protected]>
Subject Moving Northern Ireland forward
Date February 24, 2024 7:59 AM
  Links have been removed from this email. Learn more in the FAQ.
  Links have been removed from this email. Learn more in the FAQ.
View this email in your browser ([link removed])

Good morning, John

This week I have been across Northern Ireland, in West Tyrone, Fermanagh & South Tyrone in Lagan Valley and Belfast talking to people about building a better Northern Ireland.

We are a devolutionist Party. We believe that Stormont, with all its imperfections, is still better than all the alternatives. We are in the business of making Northern Ireland work and devolution is the best means of shaping it.

That means an economy where hard work and risk is rewarded. It means having a health service which is free at point of delivery and capable of providing for our people. It means having schools and an early years structure which recognises the needs of children and parents.

I make no apology for making early years and childcare a top priority. I travel around the country and I hear what our young parents are saying and what our grandparents are saying. I also hear what the childcare sector is saying. They need reform and investment.

I am glad that Emma, Pam, Paul and Gordon are working together in the Executive to drive forward a new approach on childcare which is sustainable for the sector and affordable for parents.

Our Ministers from day one, have set the agenda in Stormont.

Northern Ireland being Underfunded

Several years ago our Deputy Leader Gavin Robinson MP started raising questions about Northern Ireland being underfunded. At the time, many of the other parties in Northern Ireland accused us of playing distraction politics. The Northern Ireland Fiscal Council then published their conclusions which massively supported our arguments. This helped bring the other Parties to our position.

Just before Christmas, the Treasury at long last accepted that Northern Ireland was underfunded compared to the other devolved nations and by their own definition of ‘need’.

To have Treasury accept the principle that we were underfunded was a measure of success, but the absolute success will be when a funding package is agreed which enables us to invest in our public services.

At Westminster and through our Ministers in the Executive, we will keep pressing Treasury for the best deal for Northern Ireland. It is incredible that Treasury insists on clawing back monies that were overspent last year even though it accepts in principle that their underfunding was the cause of the overspend.

People in Northern Ireland are paying enough tax. We are a low tax party and until the current tax take is properly used, we will not be asking working families to pay new taxes.

Safeguarding the Union

Many believed we would never bring the EU back to the negotiating table but through our decisive action, we did.

My objective was to remove the border within the UK Internal Market whilst at the same time retaining access for our businesses to the EU Single Market. Let’s remember that Northern Ireland exports £8bn worth of goods to the EU. We have achieved an outcome which restores our place within the UK Internal Market whilst, at no monetary cost, retaining access to the EU Single Market for goods. This is a good long-term deal for the Northern Ireland economy.

A one-off registration to the UK Internal Market system, enables businesses to bring goods to Northern Ireland from Great Britain without customs declarations and physical or identity checks - save for those conducted by UK authorities as part of an intelligence-based approach to tackle criminality, and smuggling. That was real progress and will be a gamechanger once fully in place and teething problems are ironed out.

The red lane concept was supported by unionists in the NI Protocol Bill, and primarily exists for those goods coming from Great Britain and transiting through Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland and entering the EU single market. Some have criticised me that this still constitutes a border. Yet everyone knows that in a post-Brexit environment, those checks are compulsory, and the only question is one of where they take place. I have tried to be honest with people and explain that if Northern Ireland wants to retain access to the EU Single Market, then the red lane will be necessary to satisfy the EU that goods entering its market meet their standards. My focus has been on goods originating and staying within the UK and it’s internal market.

There is more work to do. I want to get to a place where goods used in the manufacturing process which in some cases are not deemed “at risk” when coming from GB to NI are no longer required to use the red lane. This remains a work-in-progress.

We not only made big gains on moving goods with the UK Internal Market but we also ended the automatic pipeline of EU law in Northern Ireland with no democratic input for locally elected politicians.

The new Democratic Scrutiny Committee in Stormont was initially dismissed by the other parties. When it came to securing positions on the Committee however, the parties were elbowing each other to get as many seats as possible. Indeed, Sinn Fein took the Chairman’s position and Jim Allister threw a tantrum because all the spaces were gone, and he missed out. A salient lesson of what happens when you’re a one-man band and validates the importance of having a large unionist Party.

MLAs are now given a genuine stake in deciding whether new and amended laws should apply here. Through our action in bringing the EU and UK back to the negotiating table, legal change to Article 13 of the Protocol was agreed which ends the automatic pipeline of new or amended EU law. Indeed, in the very near future this mechanism will be tested.

The Stormont Brake has always had its detractors, principally because of what they think it ought to do, rather than what it does, but with the new commitments made by the UK Government in the Command Paper, we believe it can work and will be tested.

A balanced deal

Our detractors rubbish the new Stormont powers and the wider Safeguarding the Union Agreement because - at least partly - it relies on the Government being under a legal duty to act on our concerns. Those same detractors however see no contradiction in arguing in the same breath that unionists should permanently boycott the devolved institutions and cede to Westminster complete control for devolved matters. That is not a strategy that advances our cause.

We are in the business of moving Northern Ireland forward and making it work for everyone. That meant getting a balanced deal that both unionists and nationalists can support.

Armchair generals

Those who shout loudest remind me of armchair generals. They tell everyone else how to fight the war but never wear the uniform or man the trenches. They will criticise every decision on the battlefield and cry ‘defeat’ but provide no alternative achievable strategy. They are more comfortable with their soldiers digging in or beating a retreat than moving forward and gaining new ground. I am in the business of unionism winning new ground and securing the Union for our children and grandchildren.

The Union is in the hands of the people of Northern Ireland. Its future will not be decided by a Court but rather by the people. That is what the principle of consent is all about.

Thank you,

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
DUP Leader
Join the Party ([link removed])
Make a Donation ([link removed])
[link removed] [link removed] [link removed] [link removed] [link removed]

Copyright (C) 2024 Democratic Unionist Party. All rights reserved.
You signed up to receive Registered Supporter email updates from our website.
Our mailing address is:
Democratic Unionist Party
91 Dundela Avenue
Belfast, Down BT4 3BU
United Kingdom
Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences ([link removed]) or unsubscribe ([link removed])
Screenshot of the email generated on import

Message Analysis