Biden’s rebuke to Johnson over NI protocol ‘significant’, says Taoiseach

Biden’s rebuke to Johnson over NI protocol ‘significant’, says Taoiseach

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has said that US President Joe Biden’s intervention in the dispute over the NI protocol is “significant.”

With family originally hailing from counties Louth and Mayo, President Biden is widely anticipated to be one of the most Irish-friendly US presidents in decades.

He arrived in the UK on Air Force One yesterday ahead of the G7 Summit, where climate change and Covid vaccinations will be among the big topics under discussion.

Mr Martin acknowledged that the Biden administration is seeking to establish some consensus on a range of issues among the leaders of the world’s wealthiest liberal democracies.

He told RTE: "So therefore, I think he is saying to the United Kingdom - let's do the sensible thing here.

"Let’s work out a constructive, sustained agreement with the European Union in respect of Brexit, the withdrawal agreement and the protocol.

"Let's iron out any issues that are there, and there are some issues there that need to be resolved, but there’s a process for resolving them; through the joint committee, through the talks between [European Commission vice-president] Maroš Šefčovič and [UK Brexit Minister] David Frost," said Mr Martin.

President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held their first face-to-face meeting yesterday (Thursday, June 10).

To break the ice, Biden joked to Johnson: “We have something in common; we both married way above our station.”

Johnson replied: “I am not going to dissent from that one.

“I am not going to disagree with the president on that one, or indeed on anything else, I think it’s highly likely.”

Safe to say that despite reports of Biden’s early criticism over the UK's handling of the NI protocol, and the president referring to Mr Johnson as a “physical and emotional clone” of his old rival Donald Trump back in 2019, the pair have now established a rapport.

While the two leaders were hashing out issues around the Irish border ahead of the main event today, their spouses enjoyed a stroll on the beach with Johnson and his wife Carrie's young son, Wilfred.

A senior Biden administration official denied that there had been a confrontation over Northern Ireland.

They said: "This is wrong. First, this discussion wasn't directed by the President. It was not heightened. As with any ally, we have diplomatic conversations about areas where we have concern at many levels.”

While the Taoiseach was keen to play up the significance of President Biden's intervention, shoring up the Western alliance to tackle climate change, and address threats posed by an increasingly belligerent Russia and China is likely to take centre stage at the talks.

Mr Martin acknowledged that President Biden's outlook is that democracies must cooperate and rally together to meet the challenge posed by authoritarian regimes globally.

And the president is reluctant to let issues like the Northern Irish border derail relations between two of the most important players in this alliance – the UK and EU.

Today the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, have sat down in Cornwall to discuss their post-pandemic agenda.