Arlene Foster: EU have had a 'tin ear' to our concerns about the NI Protocol
Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has accused the EU of having a “tin ear” to the concerns that have been expressed about the NI Protocol.
Mrs Foster was speaking following comments by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen who said the protocol would not be scrapped and that recent tensions felt in Northern Ireland are not a result of the protocol but rather Brexit itself.
Mrs Foster said: “I think it is hugely disappointing in spite of everything that has happened. The fact that we are talking about cancer drugs being prevented from coming into Northern Ireland.
“The fact that there are more checks from Great Britain into Northern Ireland than there are in Rotterdam; that still the European Union and the European Commission have had a tin ear to the concerns and the absolutely genuine concerns of the people in Northern Ireland.
“I would urge our own Government to act in relation to this issue because the United Kingdom as a sovereign entity has a right to have trade moving freely between the different parts and therefore that has to take place.”
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.
While talks are continuing between the EU and the British government to solve some of the issues linked to the protocol, both the outgoing DUP leader Arlene Foster and her incoming successor Edwin Poots have insisted it must be scrapped.
But Mrs von der Leyen said this would not happen, adding: “There should be no doubt that there is no alternative to the full and correct implementation of the protocol.
“And I think it is important to reiterate that the protocol is the only possible solution to ensure peace and stability in Northern Ireland while protecting the integrity of the European Union’s single market.
“If we see problems today we should not forget that they do not come from the protocol but they result from Brexit. That is the reason why the problems are there.
“Now, it’s our common duty with the United Kingdom to do whatever we can to reduce tensions in Northern Ireland and that is why we are exploring practical solutions to help to minimise the disruptions to the everyday life in Northern Ireland.”