Partnership not provocation needed for Northern Ireland Protocol negotiations, warns Simon Coveney

The relationship between the UK and Irish governments must go back to being one of “partnership as opposed to provocation”, Ireland’s foreign minister has urged.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 6:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 6:22 pm

Simon Coveney warned of a “very difficult space” if negotiations around issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol were not resolved.

Last week, the British Government tabled a Bill at Westminster that would empower ministers to override much of the contentious post-Brexit trading regime it had agreed with the EU in the withdrawal talks.

Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Mr Coveney said this approach would cause more problems than it would solve.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney warned of a 'very difficult space' if negotiations around issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol were not resolved

He said: “The way not to proceed is for the British Government to continue on the road that it is currently travelling on which is to unilaterally introduce legislation to disapply international law.

“I think that is going to cause a lot more problems than it solves.”

His comments came as his UK counterpart, Liz Truss, told MPs in London yesterday that legislation relating to the protocol was “both necessary and lawful”, warning “we simply can’t allow the situation to drift”.

Mr Coveney described outstanding issues as “absolutely resolvable” if both parties came to the negotiating table in the spirit of partnership and friendship, but indicated this was not currently the case.

He said: “We need the British Government as a partner and at the moment we don’t have that if I’m honest.

“So the peace process on the island of Ireland has always worked best when the British and Irish governments worked together. We’re willing to compromise and provide a platform for both dialogue and compromise for the political parties in Northern Ireland, which have a deeply divisive past.

“And we need to get back to that space of partnership as opposed to provocation, which unfortunately is the space we’re in right now.”

Mr Coveney said Ireland had recently been ranked the world’s third most peaceful country by the Global Peace Index and that this showed how well the Good Friday Agreement had worked for the whole island.

He added: “We dare not imperil it, which is why we have reacted with such concern at the unilateral actions and legislation of the UK Government in recent weeks.”