‘Ready for war’ comments from EU require an apology: Doug Beattie

Doug Beattie has called on the European Union to apologise over a senior diplomat’s “scandalous” comments about the Northern Ireland Protocol row.

The Ulster Unionist leader said the EU was “needlessly ramping up tensions” as the war of words between the EU and the UK intensifies.

Mr Beattie was commenting after the Daily Telegraph quoted an unnamed EU source as saying “we are ready for peace, but prepared for war”.

Mr Beattie said: “This isn’t a game. They are playing with people’s lives and needlessly ramping up tensions that will have consequences for the people of Northern Ireland who deserve better.

UUP leader Doug Beattie. Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

“I have repeatedly warned senior EU diplomats face to face that they must be mindful of rhetoric and megaphone diplomacy, bypassing elected representatives in Northern Ireland. Consequently, I am disgusted that they have now gone down this rabbit hole.”

Mr Beattie added: “At the time, I spoke directly to the EU Ambassador to the UK João Vale de Almeida, Maroš Šefčovič, Simon Coveney and the Taoiseach himself about this very issue.

“I would urge the EU to immediately withdraw these comments and admonish the diplomat who uttered them. They owe the people of Northern Ireland an apology.

“The people of NI need solutions to the problems caused by the protocol, not heightened tensions and war-like rhetoric.”