EU ready to be ‘flexible and responsive’ over Northern Ireland Protocol: Martin

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he takes “heart” from UK prime minister Liz Truss’s remarks that she would like to see the issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol resolved by negotiation.

Mr Martin said with goodwill the EU is ready to be flexible and responsive.

Speaking at an event in Dublin, the Taoiseach said: “I look forward to be in a position to speak to the British Prime Minister within the next day or two.

“I take heart from the Prime Minister’s comments that her preferred approach to the protocol is to have it resolved by negotiation. That is certainly our view also and that of the European Union.”

UK prime minister Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London, to attend her first Prime Minister’s Questions (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

His comments come after Ms Truss told the House of Commons on Wednesday that her preference is for a negotiated solution to the Northern Ireland Protocol issues.

But she warned that a negotiated solution with the EU would have to deliver “all of the things we set out in the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill”.

Ms Truss made the remarks after Conservative former Northern Ireland secretary Shailesh Vara asked her if she will press ahead with the Bill if negotiations with the European bloc are not “forthcoming”.

Mr Vara said: “It is the standard practice of the European Union that when they can’t get their way in negotiations with the UK, they play for time and wait for a new leader, who they hope will have a different view to their predecessor.

“For the sake of clarity, will my right honourable friend confirm that it is the UK’s preferred option to have a negotiated settlement as far as the Northern Ireland Protocol is concerned. But if that is not forthcoming, then we will proceed with the Protocol Bill that is currently going through Parliament?”

She replied: “My preference is for a negotiated solution, but it does have to deliver all of the things we set out in the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.

“And what we cannot allow is for this situation to drift.”

Mr Martin said he would make it “very clear” to Ms Truss when he speaks to her that he believes there is a pathway to a resolution of the issues.

“There are certain issues around consumer sector, and we believe, with goodwill, the European Union is ready to be flexible and responsive,” he said.

“If the European Union and United Kingdom can engage in a process, we believe there is a pathway to resolving that particular issue.”

Mr Martin added that he welcomed US president Joe Biden’s support for the Belfast Agreement.

“I do welcome the consistent interest of the US president in supporting the Good Friday Agreement, underpinning the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

“And his interest has been genuine and I do welcome that.”

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