Arlene Foster calls for change from ‘damaging’ NI protocol
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DUP leader Arlene Foster reiterated she believed the existing Northern Ireland Protocol is fundamentally not working and will not work in the future, even if adapted. Her sharp remarks towards the bloc came while speaking on TimesRadio with Gloria De Piero. Tensions have continued to rise in the EU as Britain unilaterally decided to extend the trade grace period to avoid difficulties of moving goods from Northern Ireland to the rest of Britain.
Ms De Piero said: “Would you use the words cautiously optimistic that an agreement can be reached within the existing protocol to make it work better?”
Ms Foster quickly replied she did not feel the protocol would be able to solve the issues in Northern Ireland.
She said: “I fundamentally don’t think that the existing protocol is going to allow us to do that.
“This is because it is the architecture of the protocol that causes all these problems.
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“Just when you think you have dealt with one problem arising from the protocol something else pops up.
“That is the very nature of the protocol so of course, we want to engage with the European Commission.”
The DUP leader argued that the EU was not showing they were willing to compromise and help Northern Ireland moving forward.
Ms Foster continued: “Of course we want to find a mutual way forward, that would be the best way forward.
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“But unfortunately I haven’t seen much willingness from the European Commission side to engage in that sort of discussion.
“What we hear from Maros Sefcovic, the Vice President of the Commission, and from other political colleagues across the EU is the way to deal with protocol is more protocol.
“That is simply not going to work because of the disruption occurring in Northern Ireland at present.”
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney hit out at Westminster earlier this week for not consulting the EU when a decision was made to extend the grace period until October.
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Mr Coveney insisted his job is to implement the protocol that was agreed as part of the Brexit divorce bill.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the UK’s position.
He said: “What we’re doing is taking some lawful, some technical measures to build up confidence in the east-west operation.
“We think it’s lawful, and indeed, we think it’s right, in view of the impact on the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement, and the need to have consent from both communities.”
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