Retail NI says Windsor Framework ‘represents welcome progress’
"Imperative that the NI Executive and Assembly is now restored to deal with the huge economic challenges that lie ahead," says Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts
28 February 2023
Following “an initial analysis” Northern Irish retailers’ representative group Retail NI has welcomed the new Brexit deal agreed between Britain and the EU, the ‘Windsor Framework’.
“On an initial analysis, this new agreement represents welcome progress towards providing the stability and certainty that our retail, wholesale and supplier members are seeking,” said Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts.
However, Roberts said the group would need to further study the technical detail of the new agreement and, following consultation with its membership, would “be able to comment more definitively”.
He also emphasised the importance of the NI Executive and Assembly being restored.
“What is blatantly evident,” said Roberts, “is that the agreement needs to work, not just for all the businesses in our local supply chain, but also for local consumers. Ongoing engagement between the business community and the EU and UK government will be critical as the implementation process of this deal begins.
“It is imperative that the NI Executive and Assembly is now restored to deal with the huge economic challenges that lie ahead. Northern Ireland needs a working government.”
UK Prime Minster Rishi Sunak said the deal, which aims to fix post-Brexit problems in Northern Ireland, is about “what is best for people in Northern Ireland” and not politicians.
The Windsor Framework agreed with the EU restores “balance” to Northern Ireland’s politics, Sunak added.
“At the heart of the Good Friday Agreement is the delicate balance that needs to exist in Northern Ireland, and that’s about respect for the aspirations and identities of all communities,” he said.
Political parties in Northern Ireland will need “the time and the space to consider the detail” of the deal, he continued.
However, the Prime Minister added he was “confident” that Stormont parties will “recognise that this a good deal and that will enable them to get back into a power-sharing executive”.
The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since February 2022 after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) walked out of Stormont’s power-sharing agreement.
The DUP objected to the Northern Ireland Protocol creating an effective trade border across the Irish Sea from Great Britain.
Rishi Sunak added that the fact Northern Ireland was able to have open access to the EU and unhindered trade with the UK’s home market was “an unbelievably special position” unavailable to any other trading nation.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the Windsor Framework went “some way” to addressing his party’s concerns, but some issues remained.
He said the party will take time to come to a “collective decision” on the new deal.
“We only received it yesterday afternoon so we’ll study it and take a conclusion on it as a whole,” Sir Jeffrey added.