Boris Johnson accused of placating the DUP in Northern Ireland protocol by Sinn Fein

The Prime Minister was booed and jeered as he arrived at Hillsborough Castle

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The Sinn Fein president has accused Boris Johnson of “placating” the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) over powersharing and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mary Lou McDonald described a “fairly tough” meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as the impasse over the formation of the Northern Ireland Executive continues.

Mr Johnson visited the region to meet with the major Stormont parties amid a warning from Ireland against unilateral action to override the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Speaking after a meeting with Mr Johnson at Hillsborough Castle, Ms McDonald said it appears the UK Government’s priority is “placating the DUP”.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

“It’s very clear to us that despite all of the rhetoric from the British Government about re-establishing the Executive here in the north, that in fact their priority is placating the DUP,” she said.

“We’ve had what we would describe as a fairly tough meeting with the Prime Minister.

“We have put it to him very directly that the absolute priority is getting government working here in the north.”

She continued: “We have said directly to him that proposed unilateral act of legislating at Westminster is wrong.

Mary Lou McDonald speaks to the media, after meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Hillsborough Castle
Mary Lou McDonald speaks to the media, after meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Hillsborough Castle

“It seems to us absolutely extraordinary that the British Government would propose to legislate to break the law. It’s an extraordinary proposal and one that would amplify the bad faith with which the Tory government has conducted itself from the beginning of the entire Brexit debacle.

“I’m sorry to report that we’ve had no straight answers really from the British Prime Minister except a confirmation of what we already knew, which is that in fact this impasse is entirely co ordinated between themselves and the DUP, and if the DUP are acting shamefully in holding back government, well then the British Government is behaving even more shamefully.”

Mr Johnson was booed and jeered by around 200 people who gathered at the gates of Hillsborough Castle as his cavalcade drove in.

Protesters, including campaigners for the Irish language, victims campaigners and anti-Brexit activists, were among the crowds who held aloft banners.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, following his meeting with the prime minister, said that he “set out in very clear terms” what is needed from the British Government in relation to the protocol.

“We cannot go on like this,” the DUP leader said after meeting Mr Johnson.

Sir Jeffrey rejected the idea that Mr Johnson was picking sides in the row over the protocol.

He said: “This is the same Sinn Fein who were in Dublin this morning asking the Irish Government to take their side.

“Sinn Fein do double standards very well.

“The Prime Minister is here as the prime minister of the United Kingdom. He is here as our Prime Minister, the Prime Minister of the people of Northern Ireland

“The idea the Prime Minister is taking sides is for the fairies.”