Taoiseach: DUP should put politics aside over post-Brexit problems

Michael McHugh, PA

The Irish Taoiseach has urged the DUP to put politics aside to find a practical resolution to problems after Brexit.

Micheal Martin said the stance of Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party on the Northern Ireland Protocol was disappointing.

The DUP has vowed to scrap the mechanism, which has caused red tape on goods transported to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

Mr Martin said: “I’m sorry that the DUP has taken this stance, I don’t think that’s the right way to deal with the question.

“After Christmas, the DUP was happy to work with the protocol on a practical level, although they didn’t agree with it.”

The protocol is designed to ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland.

The arrangements keeping Northern Ireland in line with the EU’s single market regulations have heightened political tensions.

Unionists and loyalists are angered at the imposition of economic barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

In an interview on Saturday on RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta, Mr Martin said the DUP’s stance on Article 16 was disappointing.

He added politics must be put aside to find a practical resolution to any difficulties within the structure of the Withdrawal Agreement.

He added: “As I said before, we need to dial down the rhetoric.

“That type of politics is no good for anyone in my opinion.

“We all have an obligation to dial it down, to come together to discuss these questions.

“We have to put politics aside and deal with the issues within an economic, social and practical context.”

In the interview on An tSeachtain le Mairin Ni Ghadhra, the Taoiseach said he was concerned at the increasing tension within unionism and loyalism on the matter and the DUP’s boycott of north-south contacts.

He said: “We’re happy to work together with all parties to find a resolution to their concerns.

“There’s a committee where these matters can be discussed, and problems can be resolved, within the Northern Ireland Protocol, and they should be used.

“A lot of work was done over several years on this, and it’s not even two months since January.

“I think the most effective way to deal with the questions are within the Agreement.”

Under the protocol, Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market for goods.

Products entering from Great Britain must comply with strict EU rules on animal and plant health.

Traders must complete new processes and checks to ship animal-based food products and plants across the Irish Sea into Northern Ireland.

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