Northern Ireland Protocol: Micheál Martin on border checks
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DUP MP Ian Paisley told Express.co.uk that the Foreign Secretary has promised to take “swift action” during talks this week. Mr Paisley, who was briefed by Ms Truss on Wednesday morning, said he hopes action will be taken “within days”.
He said: “I pressed her on the issue of: ‘Do we have a timeframe for when action will be taken?’
“They have told us that they will move and they will move swiftly.
“I welcome the fact that there is going to be swift movement but I hope both of us agree over what swift means.”
He added: “My view is that it has to be solved now.
“The time has passed for it being solved.
“People have been very patient. It must be done now.
“I’m hoping that within days we have action on these matters.
“But I understand Liz Truss is meeting with Sefcovic on Thursday, so we’re looking forward to a further briefing over the weekend from the Secretary of State.”
The UK has been locked in talks with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol since October 2021.
Ms Truss took over Lord Frost’s brief as Brexit Minister after he resigned in December.
The MP for North Antrim criticised the Government for failing to implement Article 16 so far, telling Express.co.uk: “There has been a lack of action.
“They say what they’re going to do and that they’re going to take certain actions.
“But they haven’t actually taken the action.
“We’ve been with the Protocol now for a year and a month and it’s wreaking havoc with our businesses.”
He pressed the Foreign Secretary to implement the controversial measure, saying: “It is now up to Liz Truss to demonstrate that, in the short time that she has now been handed this, she is now going to take the actions that were promised in July.
“I could refer you to the Government’s command paper that was published on the 16th of July where they said that the conditions for triggering Article 16 had already been met.
“But why are we almost seven months later still sitting here saying, ‘we could still trigger Article 16’? Why don’t we just get on with it and do it – and use that safety valve to protect the economy of Northern Ireland.
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“As Liz Truss told us today over breakfast, clearly, the Protocol isn’t working.
“The fact is, we have an instrument that is not working … so now let’s take immediate action and fix it.”
He added: “I expect the Government of the United Kingdom to be bullish and to champion the interests of all of its citizens, even if its citizens live in the most westerly part of the Kingdom and even if we have a land border with the European Union.
“What I want is for our Government to be stronger and to take action. And I praise their words – their words are good.
“But it’s the lack of action which is causing me concern and with the promises of action since July, I think it’s now up to the government to make good on those words.”
The Northern Ireland Protocol was agreed as part of the withdrawal agreement to avoid a hard border in Ireland after the UK left the EU.
But because Northern Ireland remained within the EU’s single market for goods, a border was effectively created between Great Britain and Northern Ireland down the Irish Sea.
The Protocol has come under fire because of border checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which have resulted in delays, supermarket shortages and increased costs for businesses in Northern Ireland.
Speaking on a visit to Northern Ireland on Tuesday, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, who is taking part in the talks, said the UK Government would not set “arbitrary timeframes” for the issue to be resolved.
He added: “We all want to see a resolution – our position hasn’t changed but we need to resolve this in a way that works for the people of Northern Ireland.”
The Foreign Office has been contacted for comment.
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