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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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Liz Truss: NI leaders react to new Conservative leader


Image source, PA Media

Senior politicians in Northern Ireland have been reacting to the victory of Liz Truss in the Conservative leadership race.

As she moves from the Foreign Office to Downing Street, the Northern Ireland Protocol is an issue she will continue to be pressed on.

Tied to that, the new prime minister will also face pressure to help get devolution at Stormont working again.

Ms Truss has received a mixed reaction from the Stormont party leaders.

Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin

Michelle O’Neill said she wanted to see a “change of tack” from the new prime minister.

She added that “triggering Article 16 will not serve anybody well” and she called on the UK government to find a way to reset relations with the EU.

“The opportunity should not be missed and there should be no more pandering to the DUP,” she said.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said that even with the new prime minister, there was still no basis for a return to power sharing at Stormont without movement on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“If there is to be renewed negotiation with the EU, then the prime minister needs to be very clear that for the institutions to be restored decisive action is required to remove the barriers to trade and to respect the integrity of the UK internal market,” he said.

The DUP leader said the “penny is dropping” in Whitehall and Brussels that DUP “won’t be pushed around”.

Naomi Long, Alliance Party

Image source, Pacemaker

Naomi Long said Ms Truss’s performances during the leadership campaign “do not inspire confidence”, in particular her stance on the protocol.

“However, being new to the role, she has a window of opportunity to put her stamp on the position,” she said.

“As such she can make a positive impact on Northern Ireland.”

She urged the new prime minister to reform in the assembly and the executive at Stormont to ensure they could not be collapsed by a single party.

Doug Beattie, Ulster Unionist Party

Doug Beattie leader acknowledged that Liz Truss has a “bulging in-tray” but he urged her not to let Northern Ireland slip off the radar.

He said: “She has to put time, effort and energy into Northern Ireland, which has been neglected.”

He said the new administration needs to find “resolute plans” for the Northern Ireland Protocol in order to help restore the institutions at Stormont.

Colum Eastwood, Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)

Colum Eastwood urged the new prime minister to get to grips with the cost of living crisis from day one.

“There will be no honeymoon period for the new prime minister,” he warned.

“Liz Truss must act immediately to address the cost-of-living crisis by freezing energy bills and introducing new direct support schemes for those with oil central heating or prepay meters.”

He called for the next government to engage in “honest dialogue” with the EU to resolve issues around the protocol.

Jim Allister, Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV)

Jim Allister congratulated Liz Truss on her victory but stressed she would be judged on her actions on the Northern Ireland Protocol, not her words.

“First and foremost the challenge for the prime minister is to take back sovereignty over this United Kingdom,” he said.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin

Image source, PA Media

The taoiseach (Irish PM) congratulated Liz Truss after it was confirmed she would become the next UK prime minister.

In a post on Twitter, Micheál Martin said he was looking forward to working with her “as PM of our nearest neighbour, on important issues we face together, both bilaterally and globally”.

Conor Burns, Northern Ireland Office minister

Image source, PA Media

Belfast-born Conservative MP Conor Burns offered his congratulations and good wishes to Liz Truss on her election as party leader.

But the junior minister in the government’s Northern Ireland Office said the in-tray she would face whenever she moved into No 10 was “daunting”.

“In Northern Ireland there are huge issues with [the] protocol, power sharing, productivity and skills,” he said.

“After my work this summer I’m convinced we can fix the challenges of the protocol through dialogue.”

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