The head of a Stormont committee has criticised DUP representatives who declined to take part in a meeting on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The snub came as the Executive Committee heard from Northern Ireland MPs as well as TDs and senators from the Republic’s Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
There has been opposition to additional checks at the region’s ports under the terms of the protocol, with unionists condemning an “Irish Sea border”.
Executive Committee chairman Colin McGrath said he had been informed that members of the DUP would not be attending that segment of the meeting.
I feel that if you’re not prepared to be part of the solution then you stand accused of being part of the problem
“I do have to say that I find that disappointing,” he said.
“There are many businesses and many groups who will be impacted by the rollout of the protocol in its early days, and I feel that if you’re not prepared to be part of the solution then you stand accused of being part of the problem.
“I think that is both equally unhelpful and is quite sad.”
Sinn Féin’s Fermanagh MP Michelle Gildernew said it was “unfortunate” that not all parties were represented.
“We have unprecedented challenges on the island of Ireland as a result of Brexit,” she said.
The SDLP’s South Belfast MP Claire Hanna said: “I regret that there are those in the DUP who are not (here). It’s 2021, if people can’t participate in a video conference about the pressing political, practical and economic issues of our time…”
Senator Niall Blaney said: “Like others, I am disappointed that the DUP have decided not to partake.”
UUP MLA Doug Beattie, the sole unionist representative in attendance, described the DUP’s move as “their decision”.
He warned of frictions and instabilities that “cannot be batted away and ignored” and could lead to the “unravelling of a lot of good work over many years by many good people”.