Brexit: Simon Coveney shut down by host on UK-US trade deal
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Foreign Minister Simon Coveney held talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on EU-US relations as well as the Brexit situation in Northern Ireland. After the talks this week, both men united to urge Britain to uphold the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol, which was agreed as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement which came into force at the beginning of this year.
But a new raft of checks on goods at the ports of Belfast and Larne under the terms of the protocol have sparked anger among unionists and loyalists who feel Northern Ireland is being separated from the rest of the UK.
The US and Ireland say the Protocol protects the Good Friday Agreement, agreed in 1998, to ensure peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland after the Troubles.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary told Express.co.uk: “We certainly continue to closely monitor issues in Northern Ireland.
“We welcome the provisions of the trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union and the Northern Ireland Protocol which will help to protect the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.
“The Good Friday Agreement is vital to ensure peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland.”
A spokesperson for Mr Sullivan said the two men “reaffirmed their commitment to protecting the gains of the Good Friday Agreement for all communities in Northern Ireland.”
Talks are continuing between the EU and the UK to solve some of the issues linked to the protocol, but many unionists have called for the protocol to be scrapped.
Tonight, the UK Government said Brussels needed to use “common sense” to resolve the deadlock.
A UK Government source added: “Common sense and pragmatism from Brussels is needed if these negotiations are to prevail.”
At the same time, a DUP delegation says it has given Lord Frost a clear message that the Northern Ireland Protocol must go.
MPs Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Gavin Robinson along with Lord Dodds met with the Brexit Minister yesterday.
Sir Jeffrey said it was a “direct and forthright exchange of views”, adding that they highlighted the “continuing harm” to businesses and consumers in Northern Ireland “as a direct consequence of the protocol”.
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“Our message was clear and unambiguous, the protocol must go and the Government should take further unilateral action to restore our province’s full and unfettered access to the United Kingdom internal market.”
Incoming DUP leader Edwin Poots has warned that relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic “have never been worse” because of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Mr Poots, Stormont’s Agriculture Minister, also told the Assembly that the cost of providing protocol checks on goods at Northern Ireland ports had already exceeded £24 million.
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