Sinn Féin and DUP to outline next steps after Protocol deal while in Washington for St Patrick's events

Sinn Féin and DUP to outline next steps after Protocol deal while in Washington for St Patrick's events

SÍNN FÉIN and the DUP will both use this week's St Patrick's visits to Washington to outline their respective next steps following a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The recently-agreed Windsor Framework seeks to address issues relating to the Protocol, primarily post-Brexit trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson and Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill will join other politicians from across the island of Ireland in Washington this week as President Joe Biden hosts a series of events and celebrations.

Both Mr Donaldson and Ms McDonald will use the visit, including meetings on Capitol Hill, to highlight the progress that has been made with the Windsor Framework.

However, Mr Donaldson stressed that further progress and a return to power-sharing can only be achieved by 'respecting the views of unionists'.

'There is more to do'

"I look forward to meeting with law makers and opinion formers in the United States next week," said the Lagan Valley MP.

"My message to them will be that it is vital Northern Ireland is able to move forward building on solid foundations — but that can only be done by respecting the views of unionists.

"The Windsor Framework represents progress but there remain areas of concern where further work and engagement are required if we are to secure arrangements that are good for the long-term interests of Northern Ireland and which can be supported by unionists as well as nationalists.

Donaldson says there remain areas of concern despite the Windsor Framework (Image: Sam Boal/

"Despite many in Dublin and Brussels telling us that the NI Protocol could not be re-negotiated progress has been made, but there is more to do.

"Whilst Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance Party would have 'rigorously implemented' the Protocol, we have held our nerve and will keep working to get it right."

He added: "We are determined to see a return to the delicate political balance within Northern Ireland where the views of unionists are valued and respected.

"Washington, Dublin, London and Brussels must remember that progress has only ever been made in Northern Ireland by both unionists and nationalists working together."

'Ireland is open for business'

Previewing her visit, Ms McDonald said the timing of the trip in the wake of the Windsor Framework made it ideal to showcase Ireland to political and business leaders.

However, she stressed economic opportunities could not be realised if the DUP did not return to Stormont.

"With the eyes of the world on Ireland once again in the coming weeks, there is a huge opportunity to showcase our island and the societal and generational change that is underway," said the Sinn Féin president.

"We have the youngest population in Europe with a highly skilled, educated and enormously productive workforce.

"Ireland is a hub for international talent. We are open for business, for collaboration and for progress.

Michelle O’Neill and McDonald following the Windsor Framework agreement (Photograph: Eamonn Farrell /

"For many international partners, Ireland is the bridge to the European market and system.

"It's unique and unparalleled access to both the EU and British markets, along with a flourishing all-Ireland economy, gives the north real economic momentum and competitive advantage.

"But to turn that opportunity into jobs and investment requires a functioning Executive.

"With a deal done on the Protocol we believe that power-sharing can be restored in the coming weeks, ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

"It is time for the DUP to get back on board and work alongside the other parties."

'Celebrate our heritage'

As well as representatives from Sinn Féin and the DUP, Alliance leader Naomi Long and the UUP’s Doug Beattie and Mike Nesbitt will also be in Washington.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will be in the capital while Tánaiste Micheál Martin heads to New York and Boston.

Seven other ministers will also be in the US as part of the Irish Government's 2023 St Patrick's Day programme, which will see 36 representatives of the State travel to 74 cities in 44 countries.

"The Ministerial programme will celebrate our heritage and renew our links with our global Diaspora and business leaders," the DFA said recently.