The Taoiseach said the UK government had moved the goalposts of the Northern Ireland Protocol as Simon Coveney warned it was “contrary to international law”.
Icheál Martin met with party leaders in the North yesterday and told reporters in Belfast that London had “broadened the picture” on protocol issues.
His comments came after the DUP caused a standoff in Stormont when it refused to enter a power-sharing government with Sinn Féin unless issues with the protocol were resolved.
London announced this week that it would abolish parts of the protocol.
Foreign Secretary Coveney met British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss yesterday and told her Britain was breaking international law.
Mr Martin said: “On the UK Government side we have yet to get a clean landing, or as others in the European Union would say, squaring the circle so to speak, and the goalposts are moving on in that regard.
“This week the UK government is once again hinting at a broadening of the picture in terms of resolving issues arising from the Protocol.
“As a member of the European Union, after understanding the problems in the North and listening to the concerns in the North, we have sincerely tried to resolve these issues.”
He called on the UK government to work with the EU and have “parallel discussions” on the protocol. He also urged the UK to “get involved and negotiate seriously”.
“This was a deal that the British government signed and ratified in its Parliament and it is now dissatisfied with aspects of it,” the Taoiseach said. “Well, let’s try to resolve these issues in a meaningful way, and that means going into the tunnel and negotiating seriously.
“We accept that legitimate issues have been raised with the Protocol, but we believe they can be resolved.”
He said “serious, substantive negotiations” are something “that must take place” and “the only way to resolve this issue.”
Mr Martin said the “narrative” that the protocol would hurt the economy in the North “is not entirely true”.
He said the government structures already in place in the north could not be changed to resolve the deadlock that resulted from the recent elections there.
He also said that a return to direct rule was “unacceptable”.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said the meeting with the Taoiseach was “useful” but that his party was not interested in “tinkering with the margins” of the protocol.
“We had what I would call a useful meeting with the Taoiseach, we made it very clear to him the problems with the Protocol, the damage it is doing to Northern Ireland and that we need a solution, we need to act decisively on these deal with problems,” said Mr. Donaldson.
“We are not interested in a band-aid approach or tinkering with the edges, it must be a sea change that respects Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market and nothing less than that will suffice.”
In Dublin, British Ambassador Paul Johnston said EU-UK talks on the impasse could continue in the coming weeks, despite London’s plan to set aside parts of the protocol.
“I believe there is always value in speaking,” he said.
The Ambassador reiterated the London Government’s view that the protocol dispute need not impede the re-establishment of a power-sharing assembly and executive in Belfast, as the two issues are separate.
He dismissed criticism that the UK government “favoured a northern side” because London’s concerns about the protocol echoed those of the DUP, which is effectively blocking power-sharing.
“We have long had concerns about the protocol and we have made them clear,” he said. “But we want structures to be established and functioning in the north.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/british-government-has-moved-the-goalposts-on-protocol-says-taoiseach-41672877.html The UK government “protocolly moved the goalposts,” says Taoiseach