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Foreign Affairs | To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which he and his Department continue to liaise with both communities in Northern Ireland and the British Government with a view to ensuring that Brexit-related issues are not allowed to damage the peace agreement that was worked out over several years of tedious negotiations

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which he and his Department continue to liaise with both communities in Northern Ireland and the British Government with a view to ensuring that Brexit-related issues are not allowed to damage the peace agreement that was worked out over several years of tedious negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Bernard J. Durkan T.D.


For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 10 May, 2022.

* To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which he and the Irish Government remain in constant engagement with the UK authorities and both communities in Northern Ireland with a view to ensuring that logistical and political difficulties caused by Brexit are not allowed to undermine the Good Friday Agreement or the Northern Ireland Protocol; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Bernard J. Durkan T.D.


For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 10 May, 2022.

REPLY


The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland was designed and agreed by the UK and EU to mitigate against the inevitable disruptions arising from Brexit on the island of Ireland and to protect the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions. EU-UK engagement on resolving outstanding issues under the Protocol is an ongoing process. The EU-UK Joint Committee met on 21 February and the Specialised Committee on the Protocol on 8 March.

I am in regular and ongoing contact with stakeholders in Northern Ireland. We have consistently sought to listen and engage with the perspectives and concerns of everyone in relation to the Protocol, including those in the unionist community, as well as the business community and other stakeholders. Both I and the Taoiseach travelled to Northern Ireland in recent weeks to meet with political party representatives, community, civic, education, and business groups.

The clear message we have heard first hand from people and businesses in Northern Ireland is that they want the Protocol to work well. They see the very real opportunities, including for jobs, trade and investment, which are presented by the Protocol.  

I also maintain close contact with my counterparts in the UK and I have spoken in recent days to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis.

The European Commission also continues to engage closely with stakeholders in Northern Ireland. The EU has listened carefully to the genuine concerns expressed by citizens and business there with regard to the Protocol. Last October the Commission made proposals to address directly concerns raised.

Our message is clear. We continue to urge the British Government to engage constructively with the EU. Only joint solutions can provide long-term legal certainty and predictability to Northern Ireland. The flexibility shown by the EU now needs to be reciprocated by the UK Government.

It is important that we continue to work to support all of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, and the ongoing work of the peace process. In the period following the election, we will continue to engage with the parties in Northern Ireland in support of the functioning of all of the Good Friday Agreement institutions.

As always, the greatest stabilising dynamic is a visible partnership approach between the British and Irish Governments in support of the institutions, with the engagement and encouragement of our friends in the U.S. and the EU.

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