Simon Coveney caves as he admits Boris Johnson’s Brexit checking proposal ‘workable’

Northern Ireland: Coveney criticises 'sabre rattling' from the UK

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Mr Coveney was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme with presenter Amol Rajan when he was asked to comment on the UK Government’s recent steps to allow ministers to unilaterally alter aspects of the divisive Northern Ireland Protocol. The Irish Foreign Minister sides with the EU in the row and voices his strong opposition to the planned Brexit bill but in practice was forced to admit that Boris Johnson’s proposed solution for a different checking regime with a “red” and “green” lane for different goods was a workable solution to the impasse.

Host Mr Rajan asked the Irish minister: “The British Government argues that goods that are coming to and staying within Northern Ireland pose no risk whatsoever to the Republic of Ireland, and therefore, it is surely possible to have a different checking regime. That’s what this whole idea of red and green lanes is a matter what is wrong with that idea in practice?

Mr Coveney replied: “It’s not only possible but a solution to that was proposed by the EU in an effort to find compromise and to respond to legitimate Unionists concerns in relation to the protocol last October, which doesn’t seem to have got a whole lot of coverage across the British media.

“But last October, the European Commission came forward with a paper to say that it wanted to negotiate a basis for applying a completely different risk management regime for goods that we can show are being purchased and consumed in Northern Ireland and other words being traded within the UK economy, that we would apply a completely different checks mechanism to basically do away with virtually all checks on those goods.

Mr Rajan noted: “So that principle of different checking where she may be the basis of a future negotiated solution, which I’m trying to think about a way forward.”

 

Mr Coveney has said the UK Government’s legislation would dismantle the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme: “What the British Government is proposing to do is dismantle the protocol, which is international law, which was carefully put together over a number of years through painstaking negotiation involving this British Prime Minister to solve or to manage the disruption of Brexit on the island of Ireland as best we could.

“The British Government is now looking to undermine all of that work for whatever political reason.

“But it is being warned from Ireland, from all EU capitals, from the European Commission, from the White House, all of Britain’s friends are effectively saying please don’t do this.

“A majority of people in Northern Ireland, where 52 of the 90 MLAs wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday to say please don’t do this.

“Business leaders in Northern Ireland and business leaders in the UK have said please don’t do this.

“It is going to destabilise what is already a difficult situation and instead focus on negotiations with the EU who want to compromise and want to respond to unionist concerns.”

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