Northern Ireland Protocol Bill is ‘economic vandalism’, Irish leader warns | Politics News
Breaking post-Brexit trade deals in Northern Ireland would inflict “economic vandalism”, the Irish Prime Minister has warned.
Micheal Martin said it would be a “very serious situation” if the UK government went ahead with legislation to abandon key elements of the Northern Ireland protocol.
He insisted that the European Union wanted to avoid a trade war and argued that issues with the controversial deal could be resolved through negotiation.
His comments came after Brussels launched new legal action against the UK in retaliation for the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would effectively tear up the bulk of the deal signed by Boris Johnson and the EU in 2019.
Critics have warned it would be an “unacceptable breach” of international law and fuel distrust of Britain.
The treaty agreed by the UK and the EU as a means of keeping a smooth Irish land border after Brexit created economic barriers to the movement of goods between Britain and North Irelandcausing resentment and anger among many trade unionists and loyalists.
The row has created a stalemate in efforts to form a devolved government administration in Belfast.
The UK is planning unilateral action to introduce separate ‘green’ and ‘red’ lanes for goods traveling between Britain and Northern Ireland, drawing a line between those destined to stay in the UK and those heading to the Republic of Ireland and beyond.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Martin said: ‘If this bill is passed I think we are in a very serious situation.
He added: “This represents unilateralism of the worst kind in terms of respecting and adhering to international agreements that governments accede to, sign and ratify in their parliaments.
“We fully accept that there are legitimate issues around the operation of the Protocol and we believe that with serious and sustained negotiations between the European Union and the UK Government these issues could be resolved.
“Indeed, this represents a form of economic vandalism on Northern Ireland because if we look at hard data, it now shows that the economy of Northern Ireland is doing very well.
“The manufacturing industry is doing very well. The dairy industry, the meat industry, the general food industry and agriculture are doing very well.
“There are some areas where we can improve the protocol and we should continue to do so.”
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Mr Martin added: “We want this to be resolved. We believe this can be resolved with good will.
“We believe we know where there is a landing zone to resolve issues with the operation of the protocol to give Northern Ireland the best chance of gaining access to the European Union market and the UK market.
“It would position Northern Ireland well in terms of foreign investment.”
The dispute could ultimately lead to a trade war, with tariffs or even the suspension of the whole Brexit deal between the UK and the EU, but Mr Martin said all parties wanted to avoid this.
“Nobody wants a trade war in any form,” he added.