Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Michelle Devane, PA

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he hopes an agreement over the Northern Ireland Protocol can be reached with Britain’s new prime minister Liz Truss.

Mr Martin said a “pathway” to resolving the matter can be found “if there is a will” and that the Government will work with the British government and the European Union “to do the practical and sensible thing”.

He said a strong partnership between the two governments is “vital” to underpin the Good Friday Agreement and support peace and prosperity on the islands.

Ms Truss became the UK’s third female prime minister after meeting Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral on Tuesday.

She was appointed at the queen’s Scottish estate shortly after Boris Johnson tendered his resignation.

As Britain’s foreign secretary, Ms Truss angered the EU by tabling the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would allow ministers unilaterally to scrap the arrangements the UK signed up to as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Following her appointment, the Taoiseach issued a statement in which he congratulated her and said he is committed to “a strong and deep relationship” between Ireland and the UK.

Speaking later in Shannonbridge, Co Offaly, Mr Martin said the protocol issues need to be resolved in the “best interests” of the people of Northern Ireland, Ireland, the UK, and the EU.

“I’m a realist, I understand the politics behind what has happened to date,” he said.

“But fundamentally when you listen to people from the industrial side and from business in Northern Ireland, particularly in agriculture and manufacturing, they are very clear that the protocol is essential.

“And some are very concerned of aspects of the dual regulatory framework contained in the British legislation which would undermine those companies and those sectors.

“The starting point has to be what works for the people of Northern Ireland in a practical way around businesses and goods and services.

“We acknowledge there were legitimate issues raised in respect of some areas around the operation of the protocol.

“Our view is there is a pathway to resolving those if there is a will.

“We want to work with the British government and the European Union to do the practical and sensible thing.”

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