Mary Lou McDonald urges DUP to halt ‘divisive’ Stormont threats

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By Dominic McGrath, PA

Mary Lou McDonald has appealed to the DUP to end its “divisive” threat to collapse Stormont.

Last week, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson signalled that his party will collapse the power-sharing Executive within weeks if changes to Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol are not delivered.

He also announced his party’s immediate withdrawal from cross-border political institutions established on the island of Ireland under the Good Friday peace agreement.

Speaking at the Sinn Fein think-in in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock, Ms McDonald urged Sir Jeffrey to rethink his opposition to the protocol and to re-enter the cross-border bodies.

“I urge again Mr Donaldson to reflect on his position, and to turn away from this divisive approach,” the Sinn Fein leader told a meeting of her parliamentary party.

“Now is not the time for reactionary, narrow politics. It is a time for calm and assured leadership. Participation in the north-south institutions can’t be cherry picked.

“We are determined to make politics work for everyone. That means making the institutions in the North work. It means defending the protocol and upholding the Good Friday Agreement.

“So the position set out by the DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson is, as I’ve said before, reckless, irresponsible and clearly made in panic mode.

“The protocol protects this island from the sharpest edge of the Tory Brexit.”

On Monday, answering questions at Stormont, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Paul Givan said there was no consensus for the protocol in Northern Ireland and added it had caused economic and political damage.

The protocol was agreed by the UK and EU as a way to maintain a free-flowing land border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

Unionists in Northern Ireland are vehemently opposed to its terms, which see additional checks on goods arriving in the region from the rest of the UK.

On Monday, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood warned that the collapse of Stormont would hamper efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

(The Sinn Fein President says that now is not the time for "reactionary" politics)

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