Northern Ireland Protocol benefits not being recognised - Taoiseach

ireland
Northern Ireland Protocol Benefits Not Being Recognised - Taoiseach Northern Ireland Protocol Benefits Not Being Recognised - Taoiseach
Micheál Martin noted that unionist leaders have not called for an end to access to the EU’s single market, which is facilitated by the protocol. Photo: PA Images
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James Ward, PA

The benefits of the Northern Ireland Protocol for the North are not getting the recognition they deserve, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

It comes as the DUP have threatened to walk away from powersharing if issues with the post-Brexit agreement are not resolved to their liking.

Mr Martin noted that unionist leaders have not called for an end to access to the EU’s single market, which is facilitated by the protocol.

 

“What I want to say to the unionist political leaders is, there is a deep understanding and recognition of the issues that they have raised about the protocol and how it operates,” he said on Sunday.

“No one in Northern Ireland, and I do appreciate it Jeffrey Donaldson himself has said this and Doug Beattie has said this, nobody has said that they do not want continued access to the European single market.

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“It will benefit Northern Ireland. I understand they need access to the United Kingdom market, of course, that’s obvious.

“But I think there are benefits and advantages to the protocol that are not getting… the recognition that it deserves.”

The Taoiseach also criticised the DUP for pulling down the Stormont Executive, after Paul Givan stood down as First Minister earlier this week.

The move was part of the DUP’s escalating protest strategy against the post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Mr Givan’s resignation automatically removed Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill from her position. Other Stormont ministers can remain in post but the Executive can no longer meet and is unable to take significant policy decisions.

Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week, Mr Martin said such moves cause people in the North to lose faith in the institutions.

“Pulling down the Executive or undermining the Executive for short-term electoral tactical purposes is not, in my view, acceptable,” he said.

“There has been this sense in Northern Ireland from since the Good Friday Agreement onwards, that we’ve had the institutions operating, we’ve had them suspended, on quite a number of occasions now.

“To such an extent that people in the North have lost faith and confidence in those institutions, which is I think a great pity.

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“There are many politicians who want to work those institutions. I think all politicians should say, whatever happens, the Executive continues, the Assembly continues and fulfils its mandate.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (Peter Morrison/PA)

“I think a lot of people in Northern Ireland want their politicians to fulfil their electoral mandate.”

An Assembly election is already scheduled for May.

Mr Givan’s departure has led to speculation that the poll could be brought forward several weeks.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has suggested his party would only return to an Executive if its concerns around the post-Brexit trading arrangements are addressed.

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