Coveney sees 'flicker of optimism' after Northern Ireland Protocol talks

Coveney Sees 'Flicker Of Optimism' After Northern Ireland Protocol Talks
Simon Coveney said there was 'a window of opportunity' to reach agreement. Photo: PA
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Vivienne Clarke and Reuters

A genuine effort by the new British government to settle a long running post-Brexit trade row over Northern Ireland has created a "flicker of optimism" as talks resume with the European Union, Minister for Foreign Affairs has said.

"There is certainly a new air of positivity and I think that has created a flicker of optimism in the context of people asking can these issues be resolved," Simon Coveney told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.


"There is a lot of warm language at the moment. I don't think we should get carried away with but I certainly think we should recognise that there is a genuine effort coming from this new team in the British government. Time will tell whether of course the compromises necessary to get a deal are possible."

Formal talks will take place on Friday with the British government, with Mr Coveney meeting with the Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Steve Baker.

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Mr Coveney said the EU remained flexible on how the protocol would be implemented, but the focus on all sides now needed to be on effectively ignoring the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill currently going through the UK parliament.

He said the EU had made it very clear that if the Bill becomes law it would mean the end of the protocol.


However, the Bill was not likely to become law any time soon, he said, and it would take time to go through the House of Lords. "That gives us a window of opportunity."

Mr Coveney emphasised urgency in reaching agreement before October 28th when new elections could be called if the Northern Ireland Executive was not up and running. He said that would “take us backwards”, polarising communities and making agreement more difficult.

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