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Stormont Assembly election ‘most important in a generation’ – Jeffrey Donaldson

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From left to right, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Ben Habib, Jim Allister and Kate Hoey during a rally and parade against Northern Ireland Protocol, organized by the North Antrim Amalgamated Orange Committee, in Ballymoney, Co Antrim (/PA) ( PA Wire)

The upcoming Stormont Assembly election will be the “most important in a generation” and will define the future direction of Northern Ireland, the DUP leader said.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson addressed the latest rally against the Brexit Protocol, alongside TUV leader Jim Allister, Baroness Hoey, Ben Habib and Jamie Bryson in Ballymoney, Co Antrim.

He thanked Baroness Hoey and Mr Habib for pushing legal action against the protocol, which will be brought before the UK High Court.

“I stand before you tonight as a trade unionist and all I want for all of our people is to have that freedom for everyone because that is what we stand for,” he told those gathered.

From left to right, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, John McGregor and loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson during an anti-Northern Ireland Protocol rally and parade in Ballymoney, Co Antrim (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

From left to right, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, John McGregor and loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson during an anti-Northern Ireland Protocol rally and parade in Ballymoney, Co Antrim (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

“In this protocol we have something that has denied the right of the people and undermines the right of the people in this part of the UK.

“Our democratic rights have been eroded and undermined by this protocol and that is wrong, and that is why we are coming together tonight to say very clearly that this is not acceptable and we will not tolerate our rights as UK citizens being compromised.

“I am very clear that we must be together and we must be united … that the message that comes out of Ballymoney is one of unity against protocol and not disunity, which is what our enemies want.”

Sir Jeffrey said trade unionism “must move forward together to strengthen our place within the UK”.

“In just over 40 days the people will vote in the NI Assembly election. It is the most important election in a generation and it will decide the future direction of Northern Ireland,” he said.

Unionists strongly opposed the protocol which brings additional controls on a range of goods arriving from Britain as a border in the Irish Sea and a threat to Northern Ireland’s place within the UK.

Sir Jeffrey described it as an “existential threat to our place in the UK”.

He said: “It must be replaced by arrangements which restore our place within the UK domestic market and which can command the support of unionists and nationalists.”

Sir Jeffrey has been criticized by other parties for the resignation of Prime Minister Paul Givan, which has left the Stormont Executive unable to function.

Activists take part in a rally and parade against the Northern Ireland Protocol in Ballymoney (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

Activists take part in a rally and parade against the Northern Ireland Protocol in Ballymoney (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

Sir Jeffrey urged a united opposition to the protocol.

“We don’t just need to see action in London and Brussels,” he said.

“Moving forward together means unionists registering to vote, using their vote and transferring to other pro-Union candidates.

“A victory for those who want to take Northern Ireland out of the Union will certainly be used as a catalyst to move forward with plans for a border survey, but it will be used to assert that there is support for the protocol to be upheld.

“We can and must move this campaign forward in opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol, but we will only move forward if we do it together.”

Addressing the Ballymoney rally, Mr Allister described the protocol as a “dagger to the heart of the Union”.

“It is a constitutional change and of the most hateful and dangerous kind, because it annexes us to the EU in trade and economy, which makes the Court of Appeals determine that we are now more part of the EU than of the United Kingdom,” he said. .

He added: “My party and I have seen through the pernicious nature and intent of the protocol from the beginning. We won’t rest until it’s gone. We can not do anything else”.

The event included a parade through the city.


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