THE UK government has been warned that any continued efforts to undermine the Brexit deal negotiated for Northern Ireland will cause serious issues in the region.
Simon Coveney told RTE that “huge problems” lie ahead if British ministers pushed forward with attempts to dismantle the protocol in the place.
Ireland’s foreign minister was speaking in response to a joint article published in the Irish Times by Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis and UK Brexit minister Lord Frost.
The piece said that while concessions on trade rules in Northern Ireland were “welcome” the extension of grace periods only “addresses only a small part of the underlying problem”.
Lewis and Lord Frost also accused the EU of failing to engage “with the actual reality” of the protocol and claimed, “opposition is growing” to the agreement in Northern Ireland and it was “not a stable basis for the future”.
Coveney hit back at the article during his appearance on RTE, describing it as “a very strange way to make friends and build partnerships” and warning it was “going to cause huge problems".
“Many in the EU are interpreting the UK’s response as essentially saying: ‘Look, concessions don’t matter. What is required now is to dismantle elements of the protocol piece by piece," he said.
While the decision to put a trade border in the Irish Sea has caused significant problems in terms of product shortages and led to unrest in the unionist community, it was an agreement personally negotiated by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government.
Johnson was among those to hail it was a triumph and included it as a key cornerstone of his 2019 election manifesto.
Moreover, the EU has proposed several solutions to the problems likely to arise from the new border checks in place but these have so far been rejected by the UK amid concern over breaches of sovereignty and the potential impact on trade negotiations.
The Northern Ireland protocol was negotiated in an attempt to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland in a move designed to protect the Good Friday agreement.
US President Joe Biden has already warned Johnson that any disruption to peace in the region as a result of Brexit would not go unchallenged.