A warning by UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss that if a deal cannot be reached she is set to trigger Article 16 of the NI Protocol, there has been a mixed reaction from local parties.
S Truss commented Sunday Telegraph The newspaper, suggesting “constructive proposals” will be sent to the EU during its first meeting with counterpart Maros Sefkovic in the coming week.
However, the foreign secretary issued a warning that he was “willing” to trigger the protocol’s security mechanism, which would suspend parts of the treaty designed to prevent a hard border with the republic, if No compromise can be made.
In response to the comments, unionist parties issued a cautionary welcome here, with the DUP leader branding Ms Truss’s position as a “welcome statement of intent”, while Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beatty expressed hope that A “constructive engagement” can be achieved between the two parties. ,
SDLP leader Colm Eastwood said the “threat” by Ms Truss was “tired” and argued it “doesn’t solve anything” and will “only make things worse”.
While Alliance Party MP Stephen Fairey said the focus should remain on a “workable solution”.
Mr Beatty said the comments “show a way to deal with trade issues with the EU”.
He said that an arrangement based on where Mal is destined to remain in NI “would go a long way to mitigating a difficult situation” and condemned threats by the DUP to drag Stormont down the issue.
“Many associations with businesses and trade representative bodies see this as a practical and sensible solution. Common sense is needed to mitigate this issue,” Mr. Beatty said.
“Further engagement and conversation is the way forward. We don’t need threats to bring down Stormont institutions in the middle of a pandemic, but instead we need sensible, clear thinking.
“Creative engagement will always work better than megaphone diplomacy.”
TUV leader Jim Allister said the foreign secretary’s “harsh words” needed to be matched with “action”.
“Empty rhetoric, like the empty threats from some in federalism, only buys more time for union-dissolution protocols,” Mr Allister said.
The protocol was negotiated to avoid a hard border with Ireland by effectively placing Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.
It is worth noting that the clear majority of people in NI and virtually any business organization do not want #article16 been triggered. This means not just more interaction, but greater and harmful volatility. Instead, the focus should be on practical solutions. https://t.co/O2t2YPJMFI
— Stephen Farry MP (@StephenFarryMP) 9 January 2022
Trade barriers on products crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain have led to constant pressure by federalists to abolish it.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has repeatedly threatened to withdraw his party ministers from the Stormont executive if the UK government does not act on protocol.
Other parties in Northern Ireland have taken a different stance on the issue, including the Alliance Party.
Last week, his North Downs MP Stephen Fairey described his party as “protocol pragmatist”, with a desire to change the protocol from “a solid line to a dotted line under the Irish Sea”.
He argued that he does not think the controversial post-Brexit arrangement will become a deciding issue in this year’s assembly elections.
In response to Ms Truss’s latest comments, Mr Fairey claimed a “clear majority” of businesses and people in Northern Ireland do not want Article 16 to be triggered.
“It just means more conversations, but greater and damaging volatility. Instead, the focus should be on workable solutions,” he said.
The foreign secretary was given the responsibility of negotiations after Lord Frost resigned as Brexit minister last month.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Ms Truss said it was her “absolute priority” to resolve the “unforeseen consequences” created by the protocol in order to maintain peace in Northern Ireland.
“I am ready to work day and night to negotiate a solution,” Ms Truss said.
“But let me be clear: I will not sign anything that sees the people of Northern Ireland as unable to benefit from the same decisions on taxation and spending as the rest of Britain, or which is still in the hands of our country.” Sees goods moving inside under investigation.”
In response to the threat by Ms Truss, the EU swiftly claimed they were “not very impressed”.
Joo Valle de Almeida, the bloc’s ambassador to the UK, said it was unhelpful to “agitate the issue” of triggering Article 16 before discussions this week.
“We still believe that it is not very helpful that we continue to agitate on the issue of Article 16. I think what we should be focusing on – at least where we are focused – is in the implementation of the Protocol. Trying to find solutions to difficulties.”
He called for a “new momentum” in the talks, saying: “We are eager to reconnect but we are even more eager to find compromise because we need to move on. It’s been too long.”