The newly-elected leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Jeffrey Donaldson, has urged the UK government to intervene more forcefully in the politics and economy of Northern Ireland.
In his first television interview since being formally recognized as party leader, Donaldson told Sky News that Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, needs to restore Northern Ireland’s standing in the UK, both economically and constitutionally.
True to form, Donaldson launched an attack on the Northern Ireland Protocol, which constitutes an integral part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
The protocol has effectively placed a border on the Irish Sea – separating Northern Ireland from mainland Britain – in lieu of a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Donaldson called for the removal of the de facto border on the Irish Sea by asserting: "I believe there are opportunities going forward but we can't get to those opportunities because of these unnecessary barriers”.
"Much of our supply chain comes from Great Britain, whether you are a consumer buying goods in the supermarket or a business relying on component parts for your manufacturing process”, Donaldson said.
"We need to fix that supply chain problem, we need to restore Northern Ireland's place within the UK, both the market and constitutionally”, he added.
Donaldson’s public outreach to the Prime Minister comes on the heels of increasingly aggressive opposition to the protocol by militant loyalist groups.
Donaldson is also concerned about deep internal divisions inside his own party as he is the DUP’s third leader in as many months, following the acrimonious ouster of Arlene Foster and Edwin Poots.