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The seven-day trial will be heard in Court 13 at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London Aaron Chown/PA

Jeffrey Donaldson says he won't sit in Stormont Assembly 'until this Protocol issue is resolved'

Donaldson, who is an MP and can’t sit in both houses, says he’s staying in the House of Commons for now at least.

LAST UPDATE | 10 May 2022

DUP LEADER JEFFREY Donaldson has said he will not be taking up his seat in Stormont, telling the House of Commons that he will stay as an MP “until this Protocol issue is resolved”. 

Donaldson was elected to Stormont on Friday but MLAs cannot hold a dual mandate, so he is required to step down from one of the two seats he holds. 

If he was to step down as an MP a Westminster by-election would be required, but if he remains as an MP he can temporarily co-opt a colleague to take his place in the Assembly until such time as he decides to sit in Stormont. 

Donaldson had said prior to last week’s election that he would not join in the power-sharing government due to his party’s objection to the Protocol but also said that he would sit in the Assembly. 

However, since the election he has raised the possibility of not taking his seat either and appeared to confirm this plan in the House of Commons this evening. 

The Northern Ireland Assembly is due to sit for the first time since the election this coming Friday, with MLAs tasked to first elect a speaker before ministers are nominated. 

Speaking this evening, Donaldson said his party has taken the “reluctant decision not to nominate ministers” and he went on to say he will not be leaving the House of Commons either. 

I’m prepared to commit the remainder of my political career to going back to those institutions and working with my colleagues to make it work…. but I will not leave this House until this Protocol issue is resolved, I will not leave this House until the political institutions in Northern Ireland have a stable foundation. 

Donaldson argued in the House of Commons that the Protocol was leading to increased costs for businesses in Northern Ireland due to checks that are imposed by the European Union.

The DUP has urged the UK government to act on its concerns over the Northern Ireland Protocol while Sinn Féin has called for a fresh team of ministers to be nominated now.

Following the historic election result at the weekend, Sinn Féin is now the largest party at Stormont and entitled to nominate the a first minister.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and UK Prime Minister held “serious” talks about the Protocol with Martin urging his counterpart against taking any “unilateral actions”. 

Johnson has said he does not plan to be personally involved in the Northern Ireland talks to restore power-sharing but Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said today that the Irish government would “absolutely” be involved.

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