Northern Ireland news

Bertie Ahern describes as 'shocking' UK attempt to 'override protocol'

Bertie Ahern. Picture by Justin Farrelly/PA Wire

FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has described attempts to "override" the Northern Ireland Protocol by the UK as "shocking".

The ex-Fianna Fáil leader, who signed the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 on behalf of the Irish government, spoke out against the British government's current stance on the protocol during an interview yesterday with RTÉ Radio 1's This Week programme.

Mr Ahern warned that trust and partnership was in "short supply" following recent confirmation that UK foreign secretary Liz Truss plans to introduce legislation to change parts of the protocol, which was agreed by her government and the EU in 2019.

"Liz Truss's efforts to override the protocol are shocking," Mr Ahern said.

"The British government...negotiated this protocol two years ago and are now trying to rewrite it, so I think we have to condemn that."

Mr Ahern said "protracted negotiations, serious negotiations" were required to overcome the current impasse.

"Discussions must take place in a context of mutual respect and understanding," he said, adding that both the EU and UK must find a way to protect both the EU's single market "and at the same time protect the UK internal market."

However, in another stinging criticism of the British approach to its negotiating partners, Mr Ahern said: "Sooner rather than later somebody has to say to the UK that the EU is a political body, it has legal powers enshrined within its governing operations, it's built on a legal framework of different regulations and directives, and a variety of EU treaties that are vested in the EU institutions.

He added of the EU: "They have powers and competences, and they can't willy-nilly break those positions, and nobody understands that better than Boris Johnson, who was a professional journalist writing on the Single Market when those competencies were being written."

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