Northern Ireland news

British government warned unilateral action on protocol will fail

Mary Lou McDonald with the US Ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin (third from right) and members of the Congressional delegation

THE BRITISH government has been told that unilateral action on the Northern Ireland Protocol will fail and that only face-to-face engagement with the EU will resolve any concerns over the post-Brexit trade deal.

As a powerful US delegation yesterday continued with its series of meetings with politicians and business groups across Ireland, Boris Johnson was again warned that there'll be no transatlantic trade deal if the Good Friday Agreement is damaged by his plans to override the protocol.

Ian Knox cartoon 24/5/22

Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee, who met British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Sunday, urged the British government to engage in face-to-face negotiations with Brussels to resolve the outstanding issues.

"The only way we can come to agreement, the only way we protect the incredible progress that's represented with the Good Friday Agreement, is face-to-face negotiation," he said.

"It is disappointing to see unilateral action being considered, we stressed that that was not the approach that we recommend, but again, difficult to determine their motivation."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said manufacturers in the north regarded access to both the EU and UK single markets as "very advantageous", but he conceded there were "legitimately raised" concerns about difficulties for the retail sector.

However, the taoiseach stressed that a resolution needed to be found through negotiation.

"The only way to resolve those challenges is through intensive discussions and negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom government," the Fianna Fáil leader said.

The bipartisan delegation led by Richard Neal, chair of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, is due to travel north tomorrow, starting in Derry.

The US politicians will meet with Stormont's main parties on Thursday.

Following her meeting with the delegation in Dublin yesterday, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald praised the "diligence and commitment" of US political leaders to the Good Friday Agreement.

“These agreements face challenges from a British government that plays fast and loose with international law and places narrow Tory party concerns above the needs of the people and economy of the north," .

“We all agree the way forward is clear - the DUP need to get back to work and stop blocking the formation of an executive. The British government must abide by international law."

But the DUP criticised the Congressional delegation, accusing the US politicians of only listening to one side.

“Congressman Ritchie Neal and many of his fellow travellers are regularly seen in the company of Sinn Féin and have spoken of their desire to see Northern Ireland removed from the United Kingdom," said North Belfast MLA Phillip Brett.

"It is therefore no surprise that their visit to Northern Ireland seems tone deaf to the concerns of unionists."

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