The EU granted Britain a three-month extension on the movement of chilled meats between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to allow for more time to resolve the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol. However, UK Cabinet ministers have urged more concessions from Brussels, warning of possible disruption to peace in the region.
Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheal Martin has urged the government of Boris Johnson to make the most of the current “generosity of spirit” displayed by Brussels and engage actively with the European Union to find solutions to existing problems, reports The Irish Times.
Speaking at an event in Cork city, Martin hailed the recent EU decision to extend the grace period of the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) – part of the original Brexit Withdrawal deal – allowing deliveries of chilled meat to Northern Ireland until 30 September.
“The time for warning each other is over. It’s time for engagement, constructive engagement, with a view to reaching a resolution,” said Martin on Saturday, weighing in on the post-Brexit trade dispute that had been the subject of heated debate between the two sides.
“I think the British government should acknowledge the approach of the EU this week in terms of the extension of the grace period and also in terms of the facilitation around the medicines issue. There is no question that the European Commission and the European Union leaders have demonstrated goodwill and a generosity of spirit towards the British government in resolving this issue.”
Speaking after UK cabinet ministers turned up the rhetoric on the issue, who suggested pressuring Brussels into more concessions over the Northern Ireland Protocol by warning of possible disruption to peace in the region, the Irish leader said:
“It really is time for British government to reciprocate… the sense of flexibility that Europe has indicated to the UK that it is willing to deploy, in respect of the working out of issues pertaining to the protocol.”
Martin was responding to comments made by the British Ambassador Paul Johnston on RTÉ Radio One on Saturday. The ambassador was weighing in on an Opinion piece in The Irish Times by Britain’s Brexit minister David Frost and Northern Secretary Brandon Lewis.
Johnson defended Britain’s position on the Northern Ireland protocol, rejecting accusations that it was “sabre rattling” and insisting it was a manifestation of genuine concern about the Unionist community fears about the protocol.
Micheal Martin added that he believed input from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and others in the bloc had prompted a genuine desire among EU leaders to make the Northern Ireland protocol work.