The leaders of 4 pro-EU Stormont events have written to the British authorities and EU urging commitments on NI within the Brexit deal to be saved.
It comes after Downing Street mentioned it should carry a brand new regulation that might change post-Brexit customs plans with the EU.
Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance and the Greens mentioned the UK and EU should make sure the “rigorous implementation” of the NI protocol.
Number 10 mentioned it should solely make “minor clarifications in specific areas”.
Political events at Stormont are divided over the federal government’s plans, and held an emergency debate to debate it when meeting members returned to the chamber on Monday for the primary time following summer time recess.
The joint letter from the leaders of the 4 events, which all supported stay within the EU referendum, was revealed on Monday afternoon.
It states that whereas the NI Protocol was “imperfect”, it assured in all circumstances that there can be no onerous border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“It is entirely unacceptable to the Northern Ireland parties that the UK Government would seek to abandon these safeguards and mitigations, which we believe would amount to a serious betrayal of an existing international treaty,” the letter provides.
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“The economic and political impact on the island of Ireland, on the UK and above all on the people whom we represent would be devastating, and long-lasting.
“It would symbolize a stunning act of unhealthy religion that will critically undermine the Good Friday Agreement political framework and peace course of and the UK’s capability to safe different essential offers to guard the Northern Ireland economic system.”
The four parties call on the UK government to “honour its commitments” and ensure the protocol is implemented rigorously.
What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?
The Northern Ireland part of the Brexit deal, known as the Protocol, was agreed in October last year and is due to come into effect at the end of this year.
It is designed to prevent a hard border in Ireland – or even any new checks at the Irish border.
It does this by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.
This will mean products entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK will be subject to new checks and control – the so-called Irish Sea border.
However, the precise nature of these checks needs to be agreed by the EU and UK and are being negotiated in parallel with the trade talks.
It will also mean when relevant EU laws are amended or new ones are drawn up, they will also apply in Northern Ireland.
Under the plan, Northern Ireland would leave the EU customs union with the rest of the UK at the end of this year, but would continue to enforce the EU’s customs code at its ports.
Details on the nature and extent of goods checks at Northern Ireland ports are still to be agreed, ahead of the transition period ending on 31 December.
The authorities, nevertheless, denied that its plans would tear up the present withdrawal settlement, arguing that it was “taking limited and reasonable steps” to make clear particular components of the NI Protocol in home regulation.
Downing Street is not going to permit the UK’s inner market to “inadvertently be compromised by unintended consequences” of the Protocol, a spokesperson added.
Unionist events in Northern Ireland are strongly against the plan for Northern Ireland within the Brexit deal, fearing it damages the UK union.
‘NI query again on agenda’
The DUP’s chief whip at Westminster, Sammy Wilson, mentioned he would “reserve judgement” till he noticed the phrases of any invoice put ahead this week.
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme, the East Antrim MP mentioned he needed to see how the federal government would set out the element.
“It would not be beyond the bounds of possibility that Northern Ireland is simply being cynically used in negotiations with the EU between now and the end of the year,” he mentioned.
“Having been bitten once, we are not going to say that this is absolutely great, all I am saying is this, that the Northern Ireland question is now back on the agenda.
“It is again on the agenda due to the massive efforts we put in since January till now to spell out the implications for Northern Ireland from the withdrawal settlement and in addition present the way it spills over into coverage for the remainder of the United Kingdom.”
Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken said “a very powerful factor” for people in Northern Ireland was to consider the implications of the NI protocol.
“When it involves state assist guidelines, or whether or not it involves entry to our supermarkets for items coming from the remainder of the nation, if there is a chance to rethink these components within the protocol, now’s the time,” he told BBC News NI.
However, Mr Aiken criticised the “blended messages” coming from Westminster.
SDLP Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has said “not sufficient readability” is being provided to the executive from the British government.
She was taking questions in the assembly and was asked about the government’s plans to bring a law that could change the NI part of the deal agreed with the EU.
“If stories are true, that is totally unacceptable. Any risk of a tough border should be resisted by the meeting and govt,” she said.
The executive meets weekly and also holds a regular sub-Brexit committee.
“It is obvious to me, that not sufficient readability is being offered to ministers from the British authorities and I’ll be urgent for solutions,” mentioned the minister.
Although the UK formally left the EU in January, it has continued to comply with guidelines set in Brussels throughout a transition interval – which ends on 31 December – whereas discussions over a long-term commerce settlement proceed.
Another spherical of talks – the eighth – start on Tuesday, geared toward securing a deal to permit firms to commerce with out taxes or customs checks.
But Mr Johnson is predicted to inform EU leaders it should be agreed in time for the European Council assembly on 15 October, whether it is to be in drive by 1 January.