(BELFAST) N.I Protocol Report: A virtual north-south ministerial meeting has been cancelled after the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) Edwin Poots failed to take part #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Oct.17: Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and the Republic of Ireland’s environment minister logged on for the meeting, but it was called off after Mr Poots failed to show.

#AceDailyNews says according to BBC News NI Protocol: Cross-border meeting cancelled after Poots fails to show: The DUP is refusing to attend in protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol and on Monday, a high court ruled the DUP’s boycott of such talks was “unlawful”.

By Enda McClafferty
BBC News NI political editor

Edwin Poots
DUP ministers are refusing to take part in North-South Ministerial Council meetings

The man behind the challenge said he would be seeking another hearing.

In a statement, Sean Napier said he had instructed his solicitors to request a High Court hearing for Friday afternoon about the DUP’s non attendance.

He said the rule of law and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement “must prevail”.

The DUP boycott of most North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) meetings was announced by party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson last month.

The NSMC is the main body for cross-border co-operation between the governments of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

It is attended by ministers from both sides of the border who oversee joint working in areas such as trade, food safety and agriculture.

The protocol is part of the Brexit deal agreed in 2019 and was introduced to help prevent checks along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

But unionists say it creates a barrier to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and undermines the latter’s position in the UK. 

Press Association: Ms Mallon says the boycott must end

Ms Mallon said the boycott must end.

The ministers had been due to discuss cross-border aquaculture.

“It is astounding following this week’s High Court ruling that Jeffrey Donaldson is overseeing a deliberate and unlawful boycott of the north-south institutions,” she said.

“It shows only disdain for the rule of law but utter contempt for the people we represent.”

On Thursday, ministers attended a NSMC meeting on health issues. 

The DUP said this was in line with its position.

Reuters: Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP leader, says the party’s position “remains as it has been”

When is a boycott not a boycott? When it’s a Stormont boycott.

One person will not be there at either meeting this morning – DUP agriculture minister Edwin Poots.

The DUP will say no, those meetings were never actually scheduled because First Minister Paul Givan did not sign-off on the agenda.

As he so eloquently put it at a meeting of the Executive Office committee on Wednesday, you can’t have a no show if there is no show.

Many others will not buy that. 

We are entering a pretty important negotiation phase, now, but I don’t imagine Sir Jeffrey Donaldson wants to pull down the assembly over the protocol. That’s risky. 

When asked on Thursday whether the DUP would continue its boycott, Sir Jeffrey told BBC Radio Foyle “our position remains as it has been”.

Sinn Féin junior minister Declan Kearney said that “this inaction by Minister Edwin Poots and the executive office is a serious failure to comply with the law and the ministerial code which require ministers to participate in meetings of the NSMC”.

He added: “These institutions are about joining up services across the island and delivering on important issues which impact on people’s lives such as health, education and millions of pounds in funding. 

“It’s time the DUP put ordinary people’s interests first by ending this illegal boycott of vital government business and get back to work on behalf of everyone in our society.”

#AceNewsDesk report ………………Published: Oct.17: 2021:

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