Monday, September 05, 2022

Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said it would be a great shock if Liz Truss was not named as the winner of the leadership race for the Conservative Party.

Mr Coveney told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that he had known Liz Truss for a long time and that they had shared many portfolios.

He said he hoped the “talented and earnest politician” would change the direction of Ireland-UK relations of the last few years.

Previous comments from Ms Truss had been strident and unhelpful, he said. There was concern about the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill which effectively would breach international law and would lead to “a whole new set of problems”.

The UK was also facing an energy crisis, a cost of living crisis and repercussions from the war in Ukraine, he added.

From an Irish perspective “we will be working to improve relations between Dublin and London,” he said. “We will work hard this week to start those relationships well.”

Efforts will be made to bring focus to the issues that need to be sorted, especially in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol, added Mr Coveney.

Ms Truss had had the opportunity to trigger Article 16, but had not done that, instead she had gone the route of unilateral legislation.

There was an opportunity now to re-establish Irish, British and European relations.

Mr Coveney said that leaders across the EU were keen to strengthen relations with the UK.

He warned that if a way was not found to establish a new Executive in Northern Ireland by October, then that would trigger new elections which was the last thing that was needed as it would be “polarising” not just for political parties but across society.

Liz Truss will have to weigh up all the issues, he said. Mr Coveney was hopeful that a compromise could be reached and that the issue could be resolved on the basis of “sensible compromise”.

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