Brexit: Liz Truss says Northern Ireland Protocol 'isn't working'
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Speaking to the Irish Parliament following a call between Liz Truss and EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic, Mr Coveney said he was concerned about potential action from the UK Government on the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.
He told the Dail: “Clearly, what the British Government has said is that they intend to move ahead with domestic legislation of their own if they don’t see the compromises they are demanding.
“That is deeply unhelpful and has gone down very badly across the European Union.
“It has ratcheted up tension between the UK and the EU at a time when we don’t need it.”
Ms Truss had warned the EU that if it does not show the “requisite flexibility” over the Northern Ireland Protocol the UK will have “no choice but to act” alone.
She told Mr Sefcovic the protocol has become “the greatest obstacle” to forming a new Northern Ireland Executive.
Following last week’s elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the DUP is refusing to enter into a new powersharing administration with Sinn Fein unless there are significant changes to the protocol which governs post-Brexit trading arrangements.
However, according to the Foreign Office readout of the call, Mr Sefcovic again insisted that there is “no room to expand the EU negotiating mandate or introduce new proposals to reduce the overall level of trade friction”.
The spokesman said: “The Foreign Secretary noted this with regret and said the situation in Northern Ireland is a matter of internal peace and security for the United Kingdom, and if the EU would not show the requisite flexibility to help solve those issues, then, as a responsible Government, we would have no choice but to act.”
Mr Coveney’s comments come after he was accused of being a a “meddling aggressor” in British politics.
The Irish foreign minister has regularly spoken out against the UK Government’s attempts to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol.
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During a protest in Ballymoney on Friday, an activist has said Mr Coveney and the Irish Government must stay out of the Northern Ireland’s politics.
Jamie Bryson dubbed Irish minister Simon Coveney a “meddling aggressor” in remarks before his speech on Friday.
He also said: “The Irish Government come to Northern Ireland and swan around as if they own the place.”
In his written remarks, published by the News Letter shortly before the loyalist rally in Ballymoney, Mr Bryson said: “It’s perfectly legitimate that unionists/loyalist exercise a basic right of peaceful protest (and I do emphasise peace protest only) and to ensure that Irish Government officials will no longer be able to behave as if they have some authority in this part of the United Kingdom.”
Mr Bryson also said: “Last summer the temperature was lowered because we- foolishly- trusted the command paper, issued to try and calm unionist and loyalist anger.”
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Referencing a paper produced by the Tory government last July, Mr Bryson added he would feel justified in triggering Article 16.
The command paper saw Boris Johnson say “it is increasingly clear that we cannot solve the problems simply by a rigid and un-purposive application of the Protocol in its current form”.
Mr Bryson then said: “It was a false promise, a clever device to lower the temperature over the marching the season.”
The unionist activist also spoke out against the 1998 Belfast Agreement, and said: “[The Belfast Agreement] is rotten, corrupt and for 24 years has brought nothing but destruction to our place in the Union.
“It is the father of the Protocol, and therefore it follows that in order to safeguard the Union, the entire bloodline of the wicked ‘process’ must be eradicated.
“It isn’t the time to meekly keep operating our own destruction- either via implementing the Protocol, or the Belfast Agreement.”
The latest row between the UK and the EU came as months of tensions over the working of the protocol – which forms part of the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU – appear to be coming to a head.
Under its terms, the UK is required to impose checks on some goods crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in order to maintain an open border with the Republic while protecting the EU single market.
The Government has complained that the way it is being implemented is imposing a huge burden on businesses in Northern Ireland while leading to a renewal of sectarian tensions.
Ministers have repeatedly warned that they could unilaterally suspend the arrangements unless the EU agrees to major changes to reduce the impact.
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