Ireland’s Prime Minister, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, has advised Sky News there’s “a route” to resolving tensions over the Brexit Protocol following US President Joe Biden’s intervention.
He urged Boris Johnson to “very seriously consider” a veterinary-type settlement with the EU to remove “up to 80% of checks” on items crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
President Biden cleared the best way for what is called a Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement by reassuring London it will not stop a UK/US commerce deal.
Mr Martin stated: “I believe the US administration’s comments… are interesting as well in so far as they deal with a significant issue that would concern the British government, i.e. the capacity to do a trade deal with the United States whilst also having an SPS arrangement between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
“In my view, there is a respectable situation there for the United Kingdom authorities, however in our view, an SPS settlement would take care of as much as 80% of all of those points and I believe it is a prize value actually exploring within the fullest method doable.”
He warned it will be “very problematic” if the UK authorities acted unilaterally for a 3rd time on the finish of this month to increase the grace interval for checks on chilled meats.
“It’s not about sausages per se, it really is about the fact that an agreement had been entered into not too long ago… and if there’s consistent, unilateral deviation from that agreement, that clearly undermines the broader relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, which is in nobody’s interest.”
The taoiseach stated he didn’t see the US president’s intervention as a chastisement of the UK authorities however that Mr Biden was “absolutely committed to the Good Friday Agreement”.
“He doesn’t want discussions around the Protocol to undermine the Good Friday Agreement and he also wants to see full engagement and he believes there’s a way and a route, as I do, to getting these issues resolved.”
Mr Martin acknowledged “issues have arisen that are causing concern” and “the necessity to reduce tensions”, however careworn his authorities has “never seen the Protocol as a constitutional issue”.
“It doesn’t in any way interfere with the constitutional status of Northern Ireland as defined and articulated in the Good Friday Agreement, we’re very clear from the Irish government perspective on that.
“But we do imagine in seamless commerce on the island of Ireland, it is sensible… and we imagine in seamless commerce, in as far as we probably can, between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.”
Watch Micheál Martin’s interview in full on Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme from 8.30am immediately