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Foreign Affairs | UK and UN engagement on Northern Ireland Protocol

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which he continues to engage with the UK and the United Nations in order to ensure the safeguarding of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol which arose as a result of Brexit.

As co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Government is firmly committed to working with the British government and with the parties in Northern Ireland in support of the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent implementing agreements. Indeed, the text of the Good Friday Agreement was included as part of a Treaty between the British and Irish Governments that was lodged with the United Nations as a binding Agreement under International Law. It is, therefore, incumbent upon both Governments to ensure that it is upheld.

I engage regularly with my counterparts in the British Government, most recently with the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris at Hillsborough Castle on 28 September. We discussed a broad range of issues, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, the legacy of the Troubles, and the restoration of the power-sharing institutions. On 7 October 2022, Minister McEntee and I will meet again the Secretary of State, as well as Minister of State Steve Baker, at the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in London, which is one of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. 

I also spoke by phone with the new Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly on 15 September where we discussed the Protocol, among other issues. 

Both of these exchanges on the Protocol have been positive. Our focus must be on finding solutions around the movement of goods from Britain to Northern Ireland – this is the issue of most practical concern to people and businesses. Working together, we can maximise the benefits of the Protocol and address genuine concerns.

The gains of the peace process have been exceptional and it is our responsibility both to safeguard them, and to build upon them into the future. This Government will continue to work with the British Government, and with our international partners to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement, and all subsequent agreements are implemented in their totality. 

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