Tánaiste Michéal Martin calls for UK and EU to be given space to negotiate Northern Ireland Protocol

Michéal Martin says the UK and the EU should be given space to negotiate on the Northern Ireland Protocol Credit: PA

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Michéal Martin says the UK and the EU should be given space to negotiate on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The controversial legislation was brought in following Brexit to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

It also means Northern Ireland remains under some EU rules for things like trade and medicines.

The DUP collapsed the Stormont Executive in February 2021 in protest against the Protocol.

“Well I think the issues are challenging and I think the engagement is important. We all welcome the fact the EU negotiating team and the UK negotiating team have been engaging and continue to engage on the issue,” Mr Martin said in Brussels.

“We would hope that those negotiations would be successful but they are very challenging both from the UK and EU side.

“So I’ve never understated the challenges that face them, but the important aspect of this is that they are talking and I do believe they should be allowed space to continue the negotiations.”

When asked what he’d like to see a future relationship between the EU and the UK look like, Mr Martin stressed the importance of allies remaining close.

“I would like to see it become stronger and closer because of the huge political problems in the world and Europe and the United Kingdom,” he said.

“The war in Ukraine is one such clear issue where there has been strong alliance between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

“The energy crisis, the migration crisis, the hunger crisis around the world – all of that demands very strong harmony between the United Kingdom and the European Union and the United States and other like-minded democracies.

“That is why it is in my view it is imperative that we resolve the issues around EU-UK trade and the Protocol and then also developing the British-Irish relationship.

“We had a very good meeting last week with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris and his team and discussing issues around energy and cyber security, so it was one of the more substantial British and Irish Inter-Government Conferences, which is an institute under the Good Friday Agreement, and we want to see that develop more strongly.

“So a lot does rest on resolving the issue around the Protocol.”

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