The Northern Ireland Protocol has cast a “long shadow” over political arrangements at Stormont, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP leader, has said.
Speaking at a plenary meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (Bipa), Sir Jeffrey said the Stormont Executive would only be restored when issues surrounding the protocol were resolved.
But John Finucane, Sinn Fein MP, said he thought the protocol was a result of the DUP championing of the “hardest possible Brexit”.
Northern Ireland’s powersharing Executive collapsed earlier this month when the DUP’s Paul Givan resigned as first minister in protest at the protocol.
Sir Jeffrey continued: “Those who claim that the Northern Ireland Protocol is designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the political institutions that were created by it surely must now recognise that the three sets of relationships covered by the agreement have been damaged since the protocol was implemented.
“The continued imposition of the protocol upon Northern Ireland has cast its long shadow over our political arrangements at Stormont, as well as on a north-south and east-west basis and the everyday lives of our people.
“The genuine objections to it cannot be wished away, nor simply ignored.”
Sir Jeffrey added: “As the leader of Northern Ireland’s largest party, I must stress that the problems of the protocol are not confined to unionists, but affect the everyday lives and livelihoods of everyone in Northern Ireland.
“The long shadow of the Irish Sea border must be removed from our politics. It is holding us back.”
Mr Finucane said the DUP boycott of the Executive and the North South Ministerial Council amounts to “an assault on the Good Friday Agreement itself.”
He said it is a direct result of the “political fallout” between the Tories and the DUP.
He continued: “Both championed the hardest possible Brexit yet take no responsibility for its consequences.”