Irish and British leaders to meet in Cardiff amid ongoing post-Brexit negotiations

A meeting of the British-Irish Council will take place in Wales on Friday.

The meeting of politicians from across Ireland and the UK comes amid ongoing negotiations between London and Brussels about post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland protocol is likely to be discussed at the meeting in Cardiff.

Earlier this week, UK Brexit minister David Frost was urged by political parties at Stormont to find agreement with the European Union over the protocol, the arrangements agreed in 2019 that were designed to prevent Brexit creating a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Unionists argue that the protocol undermines Northern Ireland’s place in the UK, while Boris Johnson’s government has threatened to invoke article 16 and unilaterally suspend parts of the agreement.

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern said loyalists in east Belfast and “ghettos” in Northern Ireland “don’t have a clue” about the post-Brexit protocol, and see it as a “trick by the South” to create a united Ireland.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said it was “deeply disappointing” that the UK government was not showing any “reciprocal willingness to compromise” after the EU had offered “a significant compromise” to reduce checks with new proposals last month.

The Covid-19 pandemic and climate change are also expected to be on the agenda during the summit.

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford, who is hosting the meeting, said that the summit was a “timely opportunity to support dialogue and collective action between our governments.

“This is more essential than ever given the current challenges we all face.

“The council plays a unique and critical role in developing positive relationships between its members,” he said.

The last meeting of the British-Irish Council took place in June in Fermanagh. – PA

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