Challenges round NI protocol might be negotiated, US delegation chief says

The head of a US congressional delegation visiting Britain and Ireland has expressed confidence the “challenges” in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol “can be negotiated” – however warned the US will likely be “unwavering as is necessary” in its help of the Belfast Agreement.

Top Democrat Richard Neal is overseeing a nine-strong crew from the US House of Representatives’ methods and means committee on the journey and is at present in Ireland for a four-day commerce go to.

The delegates will journey to the North this week to satisfy with leaders of the principle political events there because the Stormont deadlock continues.

The North is and not using a functioning powersharing authorities following the current Assembly elections after the DUP refused to elect a Speaker in its protest on the protocol, the a part of the Brexit withdrawal settlement which prevented a tough Border on the island of Ireland by inserting a customs and regulatory border within the Irish Sea. One of the goals of the protocol was to safe peace on the island by avoiding a tough Border. However, the protocol has grow to be the supply of political tensions amongst some unionists, and between the EU and UK amid excellent points over its implementation.

Speaking in Co Kerry on Sunday, Mr Neal admitted he had had “some very hard conversations” with the UK authorities on the weekend after its overseas secretary, Liz Truss, final week signalled plans to overtake unilaterally elements of the Brexit deal regarding Northern Ireland.

He described the US as a “guarantor of the Good Friday [Belfast] Agreement”.

“We have made the argument that the Good Friday Agreement has worked and has worked quite well. We don’t want to see it disturbed,” the congressman stated.

“We’re now developing on the twenty fifth anniversary [of the peace agreement] . . . and recall that everyone gave up one thing to place to relaxation the longest standing political dispute of the western world.

“So I recounted that before secretary Truss yesterday . . . We don’t want to see anything disturbed and we intend to be as unwavering as is necessary.”

Mr Neal stated he believed any points in relation to the protocol might be resolved by talks.

“That was the clear message from Brussels, they’re ready to negotiate,” he stated.

“A clear message that we offered to the UK: if they want to negotiate and you say you want to negotiate, there should be negotiation.”

He added that the US authorities’s views are clear: “President [Joe] Biden, speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and I’ve made our place identified. Nothing can jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement or any kind of return to a tough Border.

“. . . Whatever challenges that are offered by the protocol, we think can be negotiated.”

Ms Truss met with the US delegation on Saturday forward of its journey to Ireland and stated the UK had a “cast-iron commitment” to the Belfast Agreement.

‘Economic tsunami’

Meanwhile, DUP chief Jeffrey Donaldson stated that implementing the protocol in full would end in “an economic tsunami” hitting Northern Ireland.

Responding to a tweet from Brendan Boyle, a member of the US House of Representatives, Mr Donaldson claimed the act of calling for the complete implementation of the commerce deal was “such folly”.

DUP Assembly member Gordon Lyons stated his celebration appeared ahead to assembly the bipartisan congressional delegation, however that US representatives “must recognise” that the protocol had undermined the Belfast Agreement, which he claimed representatives had “continually” misunderstood.

“It is high time the American administration recognised the fundamental importance of securing the support of both unionists and nationalists,” he stated.

“Without such support, devolution cannot function.”

On Sunday, Alliance Party chief Naomi Long advised Sky News that she understood that border points have been “difficult” for unionists, however that it was an “inevitability as a consequence of Brexit”. “Unfortunately, Brexit put borders and border friction back on the agenda, and that is very difficult for the very delicate ecology of Northern Ireland to deal with,” she stated. Additional reporting: PA

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