Ireland calls British plan ‘vandalism’ — Analysis

London’s plan to scrap the post-Brexit trade agreement would seriously damage Northern Ireland’s economy, Micheal Martin said

Micheal Martin, Irish Prime Minister, has accused the UK “economic vandalism”In a BBC interview Sunday. Martin was responding to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to overhaul the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol, branding it the worst kind of unilateralism.

Last week, a House of Commons bill would significantly change the protocol that currently requires customs checks for goods arriving from Great Britain into Northern Ireland. If the bill passes, goods bound to Northern Ireland will not have to be subjected to these checks. However, those bound for Northern Ireland via Northern Ireland, would need tax and inspection at British ports before they reach the Republic of Ireland.

“The legislation effectively would be severely damaging to the Northern Ireland economy, particularly in the context of the dual regulatory standards approach,”Martin said that he was referring to the dilemma faced by Northern Irish businesses between conforming to UK and EU standards.

“In effect, it represents a form of economic vandalism on Northern Ireland because if you look, any objective data is now showing that the Northern Ireland economy is doing very well,”He went on. He stated that the Irish government believed that the new legislation was a good idea. “is very, very worrying in terms of the actual damage it could do to key sectors of Northern Ireland economy.”

UK set to break international law – Sinn Fein chief

The British government argues that a dual regulatory approach would rid UK-Northern Ireland trade of burdensome EU regulations, while avoiding the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, something that would be an unwelcome reminder of the North’s troubled political history.

“There are certain areas where we can improve the protocol and we should continue to do that,” Martin said, calling for “substantive negotiations between the British government and the European Union.” 

Northern Ireland’s unionists – those who support remaining a part of the United Kingdom and view the protocol as sidelining them – have threatened not to share power with the nationalist Sinn Fein party if the protocol remains in force, and have criticized Martin for dismissing their concerns. 

“From Day One, Dublin has done the right thing in Dublin’s interest and never prioritized Northern Ireland consensus,”Sammy Wilson (Democratic Unionist Party) spoke on behalf of the BBC. “Not one unionist MP or MLA supports the protocol but instead of Dublin trying to understand or recognise our objections, they repeatedly lecture us, talk down to us and demand we change our mind.”

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, whose party represents Irish nationalist interests, has said that Britain’s proposal constitutes “a breach of international law”It would be a breach of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which was signed to end decades of violence in Northern Ireland. 

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