Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the DUP threat to topple Northern Ireland institutions if changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol are not implemented has “created new challenges”.
Martin said the European Union is in a state of settlement and wants to act within the agreements agreed to make the Northern Ireland Protocol work.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson earlier announced his party’s immediate withdrawal from cross-border political institutions set up on the island of Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement.
Speaking at Co Cavan, Martin said he was fully committed to safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement.
“It is no secret that I am passionately committed to maintaining the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and their full functioning in all aspects, north, south, executive and assembly and the British Irish dimension, so this is something I’m very committed to. “
Taoiseach met with European Commission Vice President Maroš ovefovi ahead of his visit to Northern Ireland.
Martin said they had a “very good comprehensive discussion” last night.
“As for the meeting I had with Vice President Sefcovic last night and the meetings I had over the weekend with the UK, I am clear that Europe is on the way out and that Europe wants to work hard within the existing agreements on make the protocol work for the people of Northern Ireland, “Martin said.
“I hope that Vice President Shefov came out today to listen and engage. From our perspective, we have heard the views of the parties and we have met with all the other parties on this issue.
“What is clear is that I think all parties would like to see a simpler and more flexible functioning of the protocol. The UK government is telling me they want to get a solution.”
Mr Donaldson issued the warning for Stormont’s future in a keynote address in Belfast on the same day that Vice President Šefov began a two-day visit to Northern Ireland.
Ahead of any move to pull ministers out of the coalition administration, a move that would bring down power-sharing institutions, Donaldson said his party was first seeking to challenge the legality of controls on goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Britain. presented under protocol, and determine whether their implementation requires the approval of the Stormont Executive.
Speaking tonight on RTÉ’s Prime Time program, Donaldson said he wanted to see progress made from mid-to-late October on Northern Ireland Protocol issues, before his party potentially withdrew from the Stormont Executive .
He would not step down on an exact date or date, but rather insisted on his desire for election to the assembly to give a mandate to his position on the protocol.
Pressed on the issue however, Mr. Donaldson said: “We have made it clear that we should see progress probably from mid to late October. There are good reasons for that.”
“I’m just saying I can not hold my position in government in the circumstances when we have to lead by establishing a protocol that is hurting Northern Ireland,” he added.
Donaldson disagreed that the party was demanding the overthrow of the Executive, saying: “I’m doing what often happens with coalition governments, saying we can not proceed in circumstances where as trade unionists we are expected to get involved in a protocol that is damages our relationship with the rest of the UK.
“This is not a stable position for me as a trade unionist,” he added. “Every day our economy is being damaged and undermined by this protocol”
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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald today described the position set by Mr. Donaldson as “reckless, irresponsible and [a] short-sighted electoral stunt “.
“They are threatening the stability of political institutions when we are in the midst of the Covid pandemic, when conservatives are putting pressure on families and workers with more cuts, and when there is a lot of work to be done on issues that matter to people in their daily lives.” “on waiting lists in hospitals, in schools, in housing and work, and in rebuilding our economy,” she said.
Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said “no positive agenda” is served by undermining the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.
“We take trade union concerns about the protocol seriously and we have consistently sought to listen to and engage with those concerns, as we do with the perspectives of everyone in Northern Ireland.
“Taoiseach and Tánaiste met with Jeffrey Donaldson to discuss these issues in detail over the past two weeks.
“However, no positive agenda is served by blocking practical north / south co-operation or dismantling other institutions of the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.
Reacting to Donaldson’s speech, Downing Street said the threat of Stormont’s collapse over the protocol showed the “real pressures” the deal is causing.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “I think this illustrates the real pressures that the protocol is causing in Northern Ireland and the lack of cross-community support for the current arrangements.
“Without this support, the protocol cannot be sustainable in the long run. That is why we have published a command letter outlining the significant changes needed to put the protocol on a solid footing, and we are engaging in negotiations. “with the EU to determine whether a constructive process can be set up to address these issues.”
He added: “We believe that the challenges that DUP and others have posed illustrate that the protocol in its current form is simply not sustainable.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said Donaldson’s comments are “dangerous” and said he is not learning the lessons of history.
Speaking to RTÉ News on One, he said that threatening to overthrow the institutions and leaving a key part of the Good Friday Agreement “which are the institutions of the North / South” is extremely naive and dangerous.
“Further work of what Jeffrey really wants, if his logic is brought to an end, you are looking at a border on the island of Ireland. And that just can’t be supported.”
He said there have always been opportunities for solutions, but said the problem is that the British government has not negotiated in good faith.
“Some of the things Jeffrey said are not adjustable. He wants to turn the clock back. If he wanted to do that, maybe he should not have backed Brexit in the first place.”
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader Doug Beattie said he is “certainly on the way out” when it comes to approaching ongoing issues with the Protocol.
Speaking on RT Drive Drivetime, he said: “I think the differences with myself, my party and the Democratic Unionist Party are that we see the protocol as something that undermines the Good Friday Belfast Agreement, it is not working properly. , but the way to fix it is through engagement by not pulling or pulling.
“[Mr Donaldson] now it has also threatened the stability of Stormont and that I do not think is a good thing because you reach the edge of the cliff and when it falls from the crash, the only people who will suffer, are the people of Northern Ireland. “
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