Northern Ireland Protocol: US Consulate silent on David Trimble warning that Joe Biden ‘risks a return to sectarian strife’

The US Consulate in Belfast last night remained silent on claims from Lord Trimble that President Joe Biden’s approach to the NI Protocol “risks a return to sectarian strife”.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 6:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 8:55 am

Lord Trimble wrote in his letter: “The Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) has not only subverted the main safeguards within the Belfast Agreement causing civic unrest and political uncertainty, it is also damaging the Northern Ireland economy disrupting supply chains, inflating prices and diverting trade from our main market in Great Britain.

“At the heart of the Belfast Agreement is consent, meaning that there can be no change to the constitutional position of NI as part of the UK without the agreement of a majority of the people of the country. But the NIP, by giving the EU powers over the movement of goods into and out of the province, has torpedoed the ‘consent’ principle and risks a return to sectarian strife. The NIP totally destroyed this consent principle to the detriment of the unionist community.”

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Lord David Trimble warned Joe Biden about ‘a return to sectarian strife’ due to the Northern Ireland Protocol. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Lord Trimble concluded by asking Mr Biden to consider the way in which the protocol has “undermined the peace process” and accept that it is not good economically or politically for either NI or the Irish Republic. He also urged Mr Biden to give his support to the pursuit of workable alternatives which can protect the interests of the EU and not disrupt the UK.

Yesterday morning the News Letter contacted the Us Consulate in Belfast for a response to Lord Trimble. However despite repeated contact, by close of business Mr Biden’s administration had not offered any response to the main unionist architect of the Belfast Agreement.

UUP Peer Lord Empey, who worked closely with Lord Trimble in negotiating the Belfast Agreement said last night that America has not taken the unionist dimension of the Belfast Agreement seriously in relation to the NI Protocol.

“There is no evidence at this stage that they have - but that doesn’t mean that they won’t,” he said.

“With the arrival of Joe Biden’s Administration and his National Security Advisor, Luke Sullivan, the impression was given that the Americans saw Brexit and attempts to change the Protocol as in some way against the Belfast Agreement, and a risk to peace.

“Statements from the Americans and EU only seem to look at the protocol from a one dimensional [nationalist] view, there is no balance in their approach. However a border in the Irish Sea is just as anti-agreement as a border in the middle of the island.

“However we were able to sit down and solve the problems arising from the Troubles - so we should be able to do the same for the protocol.”

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