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Targeting Irish Government to frustrate NI Protocol ‘counter-productive’

Mr Coveney said he hoped to see the DUP’s participation in future north-south meetings.

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Simon Coveney arrives at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

Simon Coveney arrives at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

Simon Coveney arrives at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

Attempts to frustrate the Northern Ireland Protocol by targeting the Irish Government and relationships on the island is “counter-productive”, Simon Coveney said.

The Irish foreign affairs minister warned that a boycott of cross-border operations to try and change the UK-EU agreement would not work.

Mr Coveney made the comments after DUP minister Edwin Poots pulled out of a scheduled north-south meeting with Agriculture minister Charlie McConalogue.

Mr Coveney told RTE News At One that the Irish Government and the EU need to reach out to unionism.

“It’s a very complex set of pressures, and relationships now. We know many in the unionist community in Northern Ireland are fundamentally opposed to the protocol, which we agreed an implementation plan back in December,” he added.

“The implementation of the protocol in Northern Ireland has been very difficult, we have been trying to listen to those who are frustrated and concerned to see whether their concerns can be accommodated within the confines of the protocol.

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“The British Government and the European Commission are working through a whole series of issues in a way that the protocol can be implemented in a pragmatic way.

“Targeting the Irish Government and relationships on the island of Ireland to try to change a UK-EU agreement will not work and in some ways will be counter-productive.

“What is needed here is for people to work together, in partnership, for the EU to recognise genuine concerns that can and need to be accommodated, in terms of the how the protocol is implemented.”

It isn't a minor issue, it is central to the institutions that allow that Good Friday Agreement to function. Simon Coveney

Mr Coveney said he hoped to see the DUP’s participation in future north-south meetings.

He said the cross-border meetings are an essential pillar of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Many people agreed to change the constitution in Ireland, and many people north of the border, a huge majority voted for the Good Friday Agreement on the basis that there would be structures, dialogue and partnership on this island,” Mr Coveney added.

“It isn’t a minor issue, it is central to the institutions that allow that Good Friday Agreement to function.

“We need to reach out to unionism, the DUP is the largest party of unionism.

“We need to work with them to address genuine concerns around  the protocol. I don’t think we can deliver everything being asked.”

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A sign on a lamppost outside Larne Port (Liam McBurney/PA)

A sign on a lamppost outside Larne Port (Liam McBurney/PA)

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A sign on a lamppost outside Larne Port (Liam McBurney/PA)

The Fine Gael minister also welcomed the formal backing of the post-Brexit trade deal by MEPs.

The deal was approved by 660 votes to five, with 32 abstentions.

“This is something that we have been involved in for four years and it’s a very complex, and very long document that deals with everything from trading goods, trading services, to energy to movement of persons, to aviation, fishing, EU programmes,” Mr Coveney added.

“We now have formal confirmation that this deal that was being negotiated, that the Irish Government was so part of for so long, is now the done deal. That is welcome.”


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