Northern Ireland news

Biden administration appeals for calm in NI and voices support for Brexit protocol

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci).

The Biden administration has appealed for calm in Northern Ireland and voiced its support for the Brexit protocol.

At a briefing on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “We are concerned by the violence in Northern Ireland and we join the British, Irish and Northern Irish leaders in their calls for calm.

“We remain steadfast supporters of a secure and prosperous Northern Ireland in which all communities have a voice and enjoy the gains of the hard-won peace.

“We welcome the provisions in both the EU-UK trade cooperation agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol, which helped protect the gains of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.”

The British Prime Minister and Taoiseach this evening made a joint call for calm after days of unrest in Northern Ireland.

Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Micheál Martin spoke over the phone on Thursday about the violent clashes in mainly loyalist areas over the last week.

In a statement, the Irish Government said the two leaders stressed that violence was unacceptable.

“The way forward is through dialogue and working the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement,” the statement said.

“They agreed that the two governments would continue to stay in contact.”

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis welcomed a united message of condemnation of the violence by the Stormont parties.

He denied that the British Government had abandoned unionists through the new Brexit arrangements, one of the concerns inflaming tensions among loyalists that have sparked a week of violence, which police said had been on a scale not seen in recent years.

Mr Lewis arrived in Northern Ireland on Thursday to speak to political and faith leaders, as well as the police.

He said there could be no justification for the violence.

“I absolutely recognise the challenge and the sense of identity challenges that people in the unionist community have felt around the protocol and the practical outworkings of it,” he said.

“That’s why we took the actions we took just a couple of weeks ago to help businesses and consumers here in Northern Ireland.

“Obviously, I also appreciate people have talked about the decision last week by the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions), the situation with people coming out of Covid and as the PSNI has said today, pure criminal activity and encouraging young people to take up criminal activity.

“All of these things come together in a way which is completely unacceptable.”

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