Politicians across the island of Ireland reacted on Monday, February 27 after UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen unveiled the Windsor Framework, the replacement for Brexit's Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Windsor Framework "delivers smooth flowing trade within the whole United Kingdom, protects Northern Ireland’s place in our Union, and safeguards sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland," Sunak said in a press briefing on Monday.

Additionally, the Windsor Framework provides for a so-called "Stormont Brake," which, according to Sunak, "will establish a clear process through which the democratically elected Assembly can pull an emergency brake for changes to EU goods rules that would have significant, and lasting effects on everyday lives.

"If the brake is pulled, the UK government will have a veto."

The breakthrough had been imminent for a number of days and comes not long before the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking from Stormont on Monday, Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill, whose party had been in support of the Protocol, welcomed the joint agreement.

“I listened to what they said and will now assess the full detail of the Agreement, and what effect it will have in practice," O'Neill said.

“Sinn Féin has impressed upon the Prime Minister and Commission President throughout this process that the fundamental principles we wanted to safeguard were no hard border on the island of Ireland, protecting the Good Friday Agreement, and safeguarding access to the EU single market for the whole island.

“Most people’s minds will now be on restoration of the Executive and other political institutions of the Good Friday Agreement so that we can get back to work and together make politics work. This means that the DUP must end its blockade.”

I welcome negotiations between London & Brussels have concluded & a deal has been struck

The economic possibilities this opens up must be seized to better people’s lives

The onus is on the DUP to end its boycott of the Executive, & join with the rest of us to make politics work pic.twitter.com/xxsA7CpqO8

— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) February 27, 2023

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the head of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which has been refusing to go into power-sharing as a matter of protest over the Protocol, said on Monday that his party's position had been "vindicated."

Donaldson said: "In broad terms, it is clear that significant progress has been secured across a number of areas whilst also recognising there remain key issues of concern. There can be no disguising the fact that in some sectors of our economy EU law remains applicable in Northern Ireland.

"The DUP will want to study the detail of what has been published today as well as examining the detail of any and all underpinning legal texts. Where necessary, we stand ready to engage with the Government in order to seek further clarification, re-working, or change as required.

"Ultimately the party will now assess all these proposed outcomes and arrangements against our seven tests, outlined in our 2022 Assembly Election Manifesto, to determine whether what has been published meet our tests and whether it respects and restores Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.”


— DUP (@duponline) February 27, 2023

Doug Beattie, head of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said his party will "form our opinion based on whether we believe this is a good deal for Northern Ireland and one which protects our place within the United Kingdom’s Internal Market."

Naomi Long, head of the Alliance Party, welcomed the agreement announced on Monday and said the party would be "assessing" the details of the Framework. 

Long added: "We will be scrutinizing the proposals for the so-called ‘Stormont Brake’ particularly carefully, to ensure that any mechanism proposed does not introduce a new layer of ongoing instability into the Assembly and Executive, or further disadvantage non-aligned MLAs whose votes already count for less than others under current Assembly voting rules."

Colum Eastwood, leader of the SDLP, said "political leaders must approach this moment in good faith and with a common determination to restore our Assembly and Executive."

In Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in an address that if implemented, the Windsor Framework "will bring stability and certainty to a situation that has been in flux since the decision of the Brexit referendum, almost 7 years ago."

Varadkar said the Framework "paves the way for new and more positive relations between the UK and the EU and between the UK and Ireland" and "helps to restore and strengthen relations between Ireland and Great Britain."

The Taoiseach added: "For our part, the Irish Government will do all we can to make these new arrangements work in the interest of people and enterprises in Northern Ireland, here in the Republic of Ireland while protecting the European Single Market and the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the United Kingdom and the Good Friday Agreement."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that the deal between the EU and the UK provided "workable and durable" solutions to issues raised by the Northern Ireland Protocol | https://t.co/dFw4XwX3ep pic.twitter.com/yuCK0e4fhW

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 27, 2023

Ireland's Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin TD said Monday's announcement is "very welcome."

"The focus can now turn to getting the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement up and running, across all three strands," Martin said. "I know from my many engagements with the people in Northern Ireland that they wish to see an Executive formed without delay.

"I appreciate that some time may be needed to consider the detail of the deal, but I would urge political leaders in Northern Ireland to act quickly, to put in place institutions than can respond directly to the needs of the people of Northern Ireland. People in Northern Ireland have been clear that they wish to see an Executive formed."

Like Varadkar, Martin said the Framework agreement "provides an opportunity for an improved British-Irish partnership, which has been so vital for peace and prosperity on these islands."