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LCC chief calls on Simon Coveney to resign following Irish Foreign Affair’s ‘delusional defence’ of EU in Protocol row

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Simon Coveney has been urged to resign by the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) after the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister criticised the UK’s Brexit minister.

David Campbell, chair of the LCC, said Mr Coveney had issued a “delusional defence” of the contentious NI Protocol in response to Lord Frost who said the UK had "underestimated the effect of the Protocol on goods movements to Northern Ireland".

Lord Frost accused the EU, in an article for the Financial Times at the weekend, of “legal purism” which poses a risk to stability in Northern Ireland.

He said the EU has also been inflexible in the dispute which risks making the situation on the ground “totally unsustainable”. 

“We are seeing political turbulence, with the loss of First Minister Arlene Foster, the change of the UUP leadership and street protests. And there are real world impacts on lives and livelihoods,” he wrote.

In response Ireland's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney tweeted that Lord Frost had continued to "lay blame for difficulty" with the protocol on EU inflexibility, but that "this is simply not the case".

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"Maros Sefcovic and EU have consistently proposed new solutions," he continued. "Is this about media messaging in UK or really solving problems together?"

The tweet prompted LCC chairman David Campbell to issue a statement on Monday calling on the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister to resign on light of his “delusional defence" of the NI Protocol.

A new raft of checks on goods at the ports of Belfast and Larne under the terms of the protocol have sparked anger among unionists and loyalists who feel Northern Ireland is being separated from the rest of the UK.

“[Simon Coveney] claims that the EC [European Commission] has 'consistently proposed new solutions’," said Mr Campbell.

"What are these new solutions? Can we see them please? And do they repair the grave breaches of the Belfast Agreement that the NI Protocol has caused?”

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Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney

Mr Campbell continued: “The reality is that until Coveney and Varadkar admit to disingenuously misrepresenting the Agreement to the European Union, and blatantly ignoring the views of the greater number of people in Northern Ireland, the EU will continue to keep its head in the sand and imperil the peace process here.

"The Irish Government has a clear choice - The Agreement or the Protocol. The two are not consistent and the least Simon Coveney can do is apologise for his misrepresentations and resign.”

Outgoing First Minister Arlene Foster, who recently stepped down as DUP leader, also critcised Mr Coveney’s comments, insisting he was "just parroting EU commission briefings" which suggested he was "not so interested" in attempts to find solutions.

Meanwhile, Lord Frost’s comments have prompted ex-Prime Minister Theresa May's former chief of staff to say that he is "pretty sure it's not true" that the government underestimated the impact of the NI Protocol when it agreed to it.

Lord Barwell, who was Mrs May's senior advisor from 2017 until 2019 and was heavily involved in her Brexit policy, said Boris Johnson's government "knew it was a bad deal".

They "agreed it to get Brexit done", he argued.

A government impact assessment published shortly after the Protocol was agreed in 2019 highlighted that businesses could expect additional cost and complexity when moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Lord Frost is due to meet European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic in London on Wednesday.

The pair are due to assess what progress has been made in technical talks aimed at simplifying the operation of the protocol.

Those talks are covering around 30 issues ranging from VAT on used cars, to pet travel and the movement of food products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.


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