Burns’ comments on the absence of the executive ‘misleading and wrong’ – DUP

Burns’ comments on the absence of the executive ‘misleading and wrong’ – DUP

Burns’ comments on the absence of the executive ‘misleading and wrong’ – DUP

The DUP described comments by an NIO minister that the absence of a Stormont executive is preventing people facing the cost of living crisis are “misleading and wrong”.

Conor Burns, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, said there was “no reason” for the DUP not to be in government and predicted that problems with Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit protocol could be solved.

General elections 2019

DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly said Westminster had to take steps to alleviate the cost of living crisis (Brian Lawless / PA)

But DUP MLA Emma Little-Pengelly said Mr. Burns should focus on protocol replacement rather than making “targeted attacks” on his party.

Northern Ireland currently lacks a properly functioning executive due to the DUP’s decision to block its operations to protest the protocol.

Many trade unionists vehemently oppose the protocol, arguing that Brexit controls on goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland are undermining the region’s place within the UK.

Controversial government legislation that would authorize UK ministers to unilaterally ignore the Irish Sea trade protocol agreed with the EU in 2019 is currently being passed to Parliament.

The DUP linked his return to Stormont with the progress of the bill.

But in an interview with the BBC, Burns said, “There is no excuse for the DUP not returning to government today.

“Not having a functioning executive is an impediment for us to get the money that Northern Ireland has been earmarked as a result of the decisions made by Rishi Sunak to help families with the cost of living challenges in England.

“Unless we get a manager, we can’t help those families in Northern Ireland.”

He added: “We will choose the protocol, the DUP should return to the government.”

Burns went on to say he wanted to see a situation where the protocol “works for everyone in Northern Ireland” and where it requires greater consensus.

But Ms. Little-Pengelly responded by stating that Westminster needed to take steps to address cost-of-living pressures.

He said: “Conor Burns’ comments are misleading and wrong.

“It should focus on solving the fundamental problems that created the situation we face today both in addressing protocol and in ensuring that the government takes concrete action to address the root causes of the cost of living challenges we face.

“All the main levers for addressing the challenges of 2022 reside in the Treasury, be it green taxes, energy bills, protocol costs or tax-free childcare.

“Just as Westminster deals with these issues in Scotland and Wales, it should also deal with Northern Ireland.

“With the financial pressures in every department here, it is only Westminster that can and should provide cost-of-living measures.”

He added that his party was engaged in a new Stormont executive, but only when the protocol was “replaced by agreements that unionists can support.”

Support in the event of a cost of living crisis

Conor Murphy said the boycott of the DUP Assembly was “punishing working families” (Mark Marlow / PA)

But Finance Minister Conor Murphy said the boycott of the DUP Assembly was “punishing ordinary workers and families.”

The Sinn Fein minister added: “It is clear that the DUP will continue with its boycott of the government, despite the fact that people are struggling with rising energy bills.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds to help people cannot be spent because the DUP, aided and abetted by the Tories, continues to refuse to form an executive.

“I ask DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson to end this cruel executive boycott and stop punishing ordinary workers and families who are struggling to pay their bills.”

Meeting of leaders of political parties

UUP leader Doug Beattie said the new prime minister should move quickly to deal with protocol (Mark Marlow / PA)

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said the new prime minister should “move quickly” to deal with protocol.

He said: “It continues to cause problems for businesses and consumers while uncertainty remains.

“It is also contributing to a toxic atmosphere in Northern Irish politics with devolution that has not yet been restored nearly four months after the Assembly elections.”

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