Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Next PM must face reality that NI Protocol is here to stay, O’Neill warns

Sinn Fein Vice-President Michelle O’Neill (PA)
Sinn Fein Vice-President Michelle O’Neill (PA)

The next prime minister must face up to the reality that the Northern Ireland Protocol is here to stay, Michelle O’Neill has said.

The Sinn Fein vice president said she has warned newly appointed Secretary of State for the region Shailesh Vara that the Government must stop “placating the DUP” and start being “even-handed” with Stormont’s political parties.

The republican party has accused the Government of doing the DUP’s bidding by introducing domestic legislation at Westminster to empower ministers to unilaterally scrap parts of the contentious post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Northern Ireland Secretary Shailesh Vara begins role
Newly appointed Northern Ireland Secretary Shailesh Vara (NIO/PA)

The DUP is currently blocking the restoration of a Stormont executive in Belfast as part of its campaign against the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The party claims the trade arrangements have undermined the basis of powersharing by creating barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Mr Vara has replaced Brandon Lewis as Secretary of State after he quit in the turbulent days ahead of Boris Johnson’s decision to stand down as prime minister.

Ms O’Neill, who attended an Eid celebration in Belfast on Saturday, said Northern Ireland was the “collateral damage” in the “bedlam and chaos” at Westminster.

“I have spoken with the new Secretary of State and I think even his appointment shows the interest that the British government have in the people here – he’s the seventh Secretary of State in the last decade,” she said.

“They come, they go, they are not even-handed in their approach.

“So when I spoke with the new Secretary of State, for however long he’s in post, I made it clear to him that I expect him to try to make Stormont work, to stop placating the DUP, that the people here voted to make politics work and their job as a co-guarantor of the (Good Friday) agreement is actually to be even-handed and try to bring that about.”

Eid al-Adha 2022
Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill (left) attended the Eid festival at Davitt Park GAA grounds in Belfast on Saturday (Mark Marlow/PA)

Ms O’Neill added: “The protocol is here to stay, so they need to stop the high wire act and playing to the gallery.

“We’re caught up in this mess in what’s happening within the Tory party and that’s not good enough for the people here who we represent.

“So, the protocol is here to stay, it’s a necessary mitigation to the hardest Brexit, which the DUP and the Tories delivered.

“So, they now need to find ways to make it work.

“What we want is political certainty, political stability, that’s certainly what the business community want and that’s what the public voted for in the recent election.”