DUP deal aimed at restoring power sharing in Northern Ireland is published

Details of a deal between the UK government and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to restore devolution in Northern Ireland have been published.

The DUP has been boycotting Stormont’s power-sharing government for two years in protest at post-Brexit trade rules.

The deal will reduce checks and paperwork on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The changes apply to GB goods which are staying in NI and will mean no routine checks on those goods.

Those changes involve the maximum flexibility allowed under a previous EU/UK deal it is understood will be acceptable to the EU.

On Tuesday, the UK and EU Joint reached agreement to make changes to that deal to allow NI to benefit from UK Free Trade Agreements.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said the result is a deal that “is the right one for Northern Ireland and for the union”.

He added that it is time for politicians to “come together and work together”.

“I trust we will have the conditions to see Stormont up and running swiftly,” he said.

The DUP had demanded changes to the way goods are traded between Northern Ireland and Great Britain in order for it to end its Stormont stand-off.

On Monday night, the DUP’s 120-strong executive agreed to endorse the deal.

PacemakerDUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was doing an interview with the BBC on Wednesday as details of the deal broke

The government will also introduce two pieces of legislation to guarantee Northern Ireland goods can be sold in Great Britain in all circumstances and to affirm Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.

Appearing on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme on Wednesday, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was asked if the deal would remove the trade border in the Irish Sea and he claimed that it would.

“For goods coming in from the UK, our objective was to remove the Irish Sea Border and that is what we have achieved,” he said.

“We’re no longer in a situation where if you bring goods in to sell in Northern Ireland, you need a customs declaration.”

He added that for people bringing goods into Northern Ireland to sell in Northern Ireland or for their own own consumption, there would be “no customs declaration required, no physical checks (on those goods) at Northern Ireland ports”.

The DUP leader argued this “removes the border in the UK internal market”.

The legislation is expected to be fast-tracked through Parliament on Thursday.

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader Doug Beattie said the first meeting of the new assembly is likely to be on Saturday and the first executive meeting is expected on Monday.

‘Broken promises’

Sir Jeffrey praised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, saying he had “delivered where others haven’t”.

The DUP leader compared the current occupant of No 10 with one of his predecessors, Boris Johnson, saying that while Mr Johnson “promised us a lot of things, he didn’t deliver them”.

“Rishi Sunak has worked with us, the secretary of state has worked with us, the team from Downing Street has worked with us to make these changes,” he added.

Sir Jeffrey said the deal was not perfect and he had not achieved everything the DUP had wanted, explaining there was more work to do on the “important issue” of veterinary medicines.

0:41Westminster leaders welcome talks to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland

The prime minister has hailed the “significant steps” taken by the DUP to agree the deal.

Opening Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Sunak thanked the DUP for its efforts, and said the other parties had shown patience over the past two years.

He said there was now the prospect of getting power sharing back up and running, “strengthening our union and giving people the local, accountable government they need”.

The prime minister added this would offer a “brighter future for Northern Ireland”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also described it as an “important moment” and that all sides needed to work together to kickstart devolution.

Meanwhile, the main Stormont parties are meeting Tánaiste (Irish deputy prime minister) Micheál Martin in Belfast on Wednesday.

Mr Martin added the Irish government has “no issue with streamlining and making sure that there’s a seamless passage of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.

Northern Ireland’s Brexit deal, the Windsor Framework, keeps it inside the EU’s single market for goods.

That prevented a post-Brexit trade border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

However, it has meant the introduction of checks and controls on goods from Great Britain.

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