Dispute over the Northern Irish protocol: “Britain has gone too far”

Status: 20.05.2022 6:48 p.m.

Irish Prime Minister Martin accuses the UK government of acting unfairly in the Brexit rules dispute. Britain wants to undermine parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol – and in doing so is also snubbing the EU.

Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin has accused the UK government of being unfair in the dispute over Brexit rules for Northern Ireland. “The current British government has gone too far,” Martin told the BBC during a visit to Belfast.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced this week that she wanted to undermine parts of Northern Ireland’s so-called protocol with the EU to remove barriers for businesses in British provinces. The EU reacted with outrage.

Dreaded tensions between Ireland and Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Protocol aims to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the EU state of Ireland, which could again fuel tensions in the former civil war region after many years.

However, goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland must now be checked. Proponents of close ties between Northern Ireland and the UK – also known as Unionists – fear it will alienate them and detach them from London.

The UK government works on the principle ‘As we wish or not at all’. And this is not the way to negotiate with the EU, criticized the Irishman Martin. Professional and serious talks are the only way to resolve the crisis.

Criticism of the Unionists

Martin also criticized the main unionist party, the DUP, which is currently blocking the formation of the planned unity government with the Catholic-Republican party after the general election in protest at the Northern Ireland protocol.

In the elections in Northern Ireland a good fortnight ago, the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, which was the political arm of the paramilitary Irish Republican Army (IRA), won for the first time in the provincial history.

The DUP does not want to participate in a cabinet in Belfast until the UK government amends or abolishes customs rules for Northern Ireland introduced after Brexit. After the 1998 peace agreement, known as the Good Friday Agreement, Catholics and Protestants must together form the government.

DUP outraged by Nancy Pelosi

DUP Chairman Jeffrey Donaldson strongly criticized Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi had warned the government in London that a unilateral escalation in the dispute over Brexit rules for Northern Ireland would risk a trade pact with the United States. Brexit supporters around Prime Minister Boris Johnson are trying hard to do just that.

If London decides to undermine this agreement, the US Congress will not support a bilateral free trade agreement with Britain, Pelosi wrote in a statement.

The so-called Northern Ireland Protocol protects important stability in the region’s former civil war, which brought about the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Pelosi continued.

Donaldson said the Northern Ireland Protocol itself undermines the peace process because it threatens key principles of the Good Friday Agreement.

“If Nancy Pelosi wants the deal protected, she needs to recognize that it’s the protocol that damages and undermines the deal,” Donaldson said.

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