‘We are in a very serious situation’: Irish Prime Minister Martin warns UK against its Northern Ireland Act

It would be “very serious” if he enacted new legislation to unilaterally change part of a Brexit deal to try to facilitate trade with Northern Ireland, according to Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin.

Urging the UK government to resume talks on the protocol, Martin said there were issues over trade rules that would need to be resolved through “substantive negotiations” between the UK and the European Union.

During an interview with the BBC, Martin said: “There is no substitute for a series of substantive negotiations between the European Union and the UK government in terms of resolving protocol issues.”

Read also | How the Northern Ireland Protocol is dividing Britain and the European Union

Asking the biggest Unionist party (Sinn Fein) to join the executive in Belfast, Martin previously dismissed accusations that the EU was inflexible.

After Britain blamed the bloc for a hard-line approach to the movement of goods between England and Northern Ireland, tensions have simmered for months.

But Britain’s plan to scrap the checks needed to maintain an open border with EU member Ireland has sparked tensions.

Read also | ‘Need for action’: UK PM Johnson calls for end to Northern Ireland standoff

Following anger on both sides of the Atlantic, Martin is visiting Belfast after Washington warned London that its standoff with Europe threatens peace.

Northern Ireland Unionists have accused Britain of driving a wedge between the province and the rest of the UK and have refused to join a new power-sharing government in Belfast until the issue is resolved , forcing his suspension.

Slamming England’s decision on the Northern Ireland law, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, said: “If the UK chooses to undermine the Good Friday Agreements, Congress cannot not and will not support a bilateral free trade agreement with the UK.”

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 12:05pm on Wednesday June 29th, 2022