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New Year, New Reality for North

The Belfast News Letter greets the New Year and the new reality for the North


By Anthony Neeson

"New dawn casts shadow over Union," was the headline that greeted News Letter readers on New Year’s Day.

The unionist daily told its readers “any traditional sense of new year optimism is tempered by unionists today by the new border in the Irish Sea, which will turn Northern Ireland’s ports into frontier posts with the rest of the UK.”

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Within the pages unionist leaders hit out at the Northern Ireland protocol that ensures that there is no hard border on the island of Ireland by shifting checks to Northern Ireland ports. They hit out at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and, indeed, at each other.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, whose party championed Brexit and voted against former Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with the EU, said: “This protocol was imposed on Northern Ireland without its consent. It means that the promise of restoring control over our laws, our borders and our money, does not apply to the same extent in Northern Ireland following Brexit.”

Former Ulster Unionist leader Lord Empey attacked the DUP over their “pursuit of a hard Brexit."

“Rather than taking back control as promised, it has instead placed this part of the United Kingdom under the auspices of the European Commission and jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, neither of which institutions we have any say or influence over,” he said.

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister said that 220 years after the Act of Union ensured frictionless trade across the Irish Sea, “article 6 of the Act of Union will be trashed by the protocol, which creates friction in trade within the United Kingdom and causes the creation of an Irish Sea border to aid that friction."

Leading Orangeman Rev. Mervyn Gibson said Boris Johnson had proven himself a “lousy unionist."

“I think we’ve been betrayed, there’s no other way to say it,” said Rev. Gibson.

“Sadly we trusted Boris Johnson when he said there would be no border down the Irish Sea that we wouldn’t be any different, that we leave Europe as one United Kingdom. Sadly that is not the case. He has made Northern Ireland a place apart.”