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Foreign Affairs | Recent discussions with EU and UK counterparts about a resolution in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which he has had discussions with the British Prime Minister in the context of the Northern Ireland Protocol in recent weeks.

– Bernard J. Durkan T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 21 March, 2023.

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which he continues to press for an early and amicable resolution to the impasse in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol in the course of the various opportunities he has had with his UK and EU counterparts.

– Bernard J. Durkan T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 21 March, 2023.


The announcement on 27 February by European Commission President von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Sunak that the EU and UK reached political agreement on a new way forward on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is very welcome.

This new agreement, the ‘Windsor Framework’, is the result of genuine engagement, and of the EU and UK working together and listening to elected representatives, citizens and business in Northern Ireland.

The Framework is a series of practical and sustainable measures that addresses in a definitive way the real-life concerns raised by people and business in Northern Ireland.  It is a comprehensive, jointly agreed solution that offers a solid basis for stability and predictability in Northern Ireland.

Both in the run up to the announcement of the Windsor Framework and in the period since, the Government has maintained regular contact with stakeholders in the UK, Northern Ireland and the EU.  

I met Prime Minister Sunak and Foreign Secretary Cleverly at the Munich Security Conference in February where we discussed the EU-UK talks on the Protocol. The Taoiseach has also spoken with Prime Minister Sunak.  The Minister of State for European Affairs Peter Burke met Foreign Secretary Cleverly in New York on 24 February and spoke with his British counterpart Leo Docherty on 26 January. As part of the St Patrick’s Day programme, Minister Humphreys and Minster of State Carroll MacNeill visited cities across Great Britain where they engaged with a range of stakeholders from politics, business and civil society.

The Taoiseach and I have been in regular contact with the political parties in Northern Ireland. I am in touch on ongoing basis with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and last spoke with him on 9 March.

In all of our engagements, we express the hope that agreement on the Windsor Framework will provide momentum towards ensuring that the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement get up and running, across all three strands. This is very clearly what the people of Northern Ireland want and is a core priority of the Government.  

I am in ongoing contact with our partners across the EU.  I speak regularly with European Commission Vice-President Šefcovic. When we spoke last, I thanked him and his team for their indefatigable work on the Windsor Framework. The Taoiseach is also in contact with Commission President von der Leyen.

It is also abundantly clear from speaking with my EU counterparts that solidarity with Ireland and their support for Northern Ireland and the peace process remains strong. EU support for the Windsor Framework has been overwhelmingly positive.  Minister of State Burke will attend the General Affairs Council in Brussels on 21 March at which we expect EU member states to give their formal backing to the Windsor Framework.

We are also in regular contact with the US administration and key interlocutors in the United States.  More broadly our recent St Patrick’s Day programme provided a platform to share our priorities on this issue with stakeholders across the globe.

The Windsor Framework provides an important opportunity for a renewed British-Irish partnership, which has been so vital for peace and prosperity on these islands.  It also marks the beginning of a new phase in EU-UK relations.  As we respond to shared global challenges – war in Ukraine, climate change – it is in the best interests of all our people that the EU and UK work together.

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