Re-enter the Executive while you still can – Empey

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Re-enter the Executive while you still can – Empey

Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey has called on the DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson to get his party to re-enter the Stormont Executive while he still can.  

Lord Empey said:

“Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has stated that he does not think the Protocol issue will be resolved before May’s Assembly Election. Given that Sir Jeffrey pulled down the Executive in order to force the Government to resolve issues with the Protocol, this is an amazing statement. It proves that he doesn’t have the power that he thinks he has.

“Added to this is the freezing of any attempt to stop checks at the Irish Sea border by the Agriculture Minister. It was inevitable that this would go to court as well and it is not impossible that the matter will not be resolved by the elections either.

“So what has changed since the resignation of the First Minister with regard to the Protocol? Checks are continuing as are talks between the EU and the UK. Indeed, HMG openly states that their negotiations and proposals ‘go with the grain of the Protocol!

“The only thing that has changed is that the people of Northern Ireland are going to miss out on major opportunities, particularly over health services because the budget cannot be agreed. Police numbers are likely to start dropping as well and we have seen the £36m destined for football here put on the back burner once again.

“Sir Jeffrey has made his point, but he should now take the opportunity to go back into the Executive, deal with the budget, deal with the resources for our struggling health service, deal with local football and deal with the massive financial hole in policing and ensure that the victims of Historical Institutional abuse get the dignified apology they deserve. By so doing, he will be denying Sinn Fein the chance to make political capital  by criticising unionists as the ‘wreckers’ in Northern Ireland and not throw away the first opportunity to have a multi-year budget allowing the Health Minister to implement his plans to deal with the waiting list crisis, recruitment, the cancer and mental health strategies.

“This would be a more constructive use of the Institutions instead of facing possibly a very long time before we have a functioning Executive.”