Ireland Warns UK Controversial Legislation Will 'Deeply Damage' Relationships

Liz Truss will unveil a bill today to rip up part of the Northern Ireland Protocol in order to restore power-sharing.
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Coveney and Truss
Coveney and Truss
Getty

Ireland has warned the UK that controversial legislation unveiled today will breach international law and “deeply damage” relationships.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss will outline a bill on Monday that allows ministers to rip up parts of the Brexit deal.

The legislation will allow the government to override key elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Truss is expected to argue the measures are vital to protect the Good Friday Agreement and restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland

“Coveney said it marks a particular low point in the UK’s approach to Brexit, especially as Truss has not engaged with negotiations with the EU in any meaningful way since February.”

However, her Irish counterpart Simon Coveney has issued her a stark warning that it will damage the UK’s relationships with his government and the EU.

Ireland’s foreign affairs minister spoke to Truss on the phone at the request of the UK foreign office on Monday morning.

During the call, which lasted 12 minutes, Truss outlined her intention to publish legislation on Monday.

A spokesman for Coveney said: “Mr Coveney said publishing legislation that would breach the UK’s commitments under international law, the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland Protocol is deeply damaging to relationships on these islands and between the UK and EU.

“Mr Coveney said it marks a particular low point in the UK’s approach to Brexit, especially as Ms Truss has not engaged with negotiations with the EU in any meaningful way since February.

“Mr Coveney repeated that the protocol is the negotiated solution, ratified by Westminster, to the hard Brexit pursued by the UK Government.

“The UK’s unilateral approach is not in the best interest of Northern Ireland and does not have the consent or support of the majority of people or business in Northern Ireland.

“Far from fixing problems, this legislation will create a whole new set of uncertainties and damage relationships.”

The Northern Ireland Protocol - agreed with the EU in 2019 - has been a source of tension since it came into force at the start of 2021.

It was designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland when the UK left the European Union.

However, it led to goods checks at NI sea ports on some products from Great Britain, effectively creating a new trade border in the Irish Sea.

Unionist parties argue this has led to extra costs and unnecessary delays, as well as undermining the union.

The row has paralysed the devolved government following the local elections in NI as the DUP refuses to come to the table until there is “action” on the protocol.

Boris Johnson insisted that resolving the Northern Ireland Protocol problems is “relatively simple”.

Defending the legislation as a “bureaucratic change”, the prime minister told LBC Radio: “It’s the right way forward. What we have to respect – this is the crucial thing – is the balance and the symmetry of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

“We have to understand there are two traditions in Northern Ireland, broadly two ways of looking at the border issues. One community at the moment feels very, very estranged from the way things are operating and very alienated.

“We have just got to fix that. It is relatively simple to do it, it’s a bureaucratic change that needs to be made.

“Frankly, it’s a relatively trivial set of adjustments in the grand scheme of things.”

Johnson disagreed with claims that the move breaks international law, arguing that “our higher and prior legal commitment as a country is the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and to the balance and stability of that agreement”.

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