Loyalist grouping accuses Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney of ‘vetoing’ talks

Attempts by Irish prime minister Micheal Martin to “reach out” to loyalists over NI Protocol concerns were “vetoed by Foreign Minister Simon Coveney”, the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) has claimed.

Saturday, 7th August 2021, 7:21 am
Updated Saturday, 7th August 2021, 7:23 am
The Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) in 2016 – from left, David Campbell, Jim Wilson, Jackie McDonald and Winston Irvine

According to LCC chairman David Campbell, Taoiseach Mr Martin appointed a personal envoy to meet the loyalist grouping earlier this year “to see if their concerns could be addressed”.

Mr Campbell has also alleged that Mr Coveney went to “unprecedented lengths” to lobby against a meeting between the LCC and European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic.

The LCC chairman said the information for his claims comes from an unnamed “impeccable source”.

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In June this year the LCC – which represents most of the loyalist paramilitary groupings – raised the possibility of “people power overthrowing tyranny” in relation to the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.

Yesterday, Mr Campbell said: “The Loyalist Communities Council learned this week that in the aftermath of their March letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin, in which they withdrew their support for the Belfast Agreement due to the NI Protocol breaching that Agreement, that the taoiseach was keen to reach out to loyalism and appointed a personal envoy to meet the LCC and see if their concerns could be addressed.

“The LCC understands however that this initiative was vetoed by Foreign Minister Simon Coveney and the LCC’s appeal for dialogue was firmly rejected.”

Mr Campbell added: ‘We have it from an impeccable source that Coveney has twice now stepped in to prevent dialogue with key opponents of the Protocol.

“It is clear to us that his misrepresentation of views in Northern Ireland and the ignoring of the cross-community guarantees of the Belfast Agreement have been part of his disingenuous and misleading negotiation of the Protocol.”

Vice-President Sefcovic has said the European Commission would “not be shy” in taking action to ensure that the UK abides by its international commitments.

The LCC is calling on the Irish government “to publish all position papers and communications it has provided to the European Union in respect of Northern Ireland and the Belfast Agreement, during the Withdrawal and Protocol negotiations, under Mr Coveney’s tenure as Irish foreign minister.”

The Irish government has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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