Bertie Ahern, one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, insisted the solution was “not rocket science” and urged Britain to return to negotiations with the EU on the Brexit Protocol in Northern Ireland.

Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, the former prime minister said he was concerned that Northern Ireland was being dragged into a dangerous political game.

“Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat worrying if this will work. [in this UK-EU dispute]”I don’t want Northern Ireland to be part of the blame game,” he said.

Ahern said he and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had met with MPs and members of Northern Ireland’s Legislative Assembly (MLA) a day after it was revealed that he and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair were backing Northern Ireland’s outgoing Minister Connor Burns. I was speaking at the Renew Europe roundtable. New negotiations are opened.

In Whitehall, there is speculation that Liz Truss will formally activate Article 16 of the Protocol next week, ahead of the Sept. 15 deadline, in response to legal proceedings initiated by the EU on the dispute.

Question-and-answer session

What is Article 16?

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Article 16 is a clause in the Northern Ireland Protocol, one of the key elements of the withdrawal agreement that legally cemented the UK’s exit from the EU in January 2020. , if the Protocol leads to “potentially sustained serious economic, social or environmental hardships or trade diversion”.

The party that caused it must prove that the protocol caused “serious economic, social or environmental” problems. ‘Safeguards’ are not legally defined but must be ‘appropriate’ to the damage caused and may include a semi-permanent suspension of checks on goods flowing from the UK to Northern Ireland .

Activation of Article 16 will not have an immediate impact on the ground. This is because many of the checks have already been unilaterally suspended by the UK, and the Article 16 process itself has triggered a formal dispute process that requires both sides to enter into talks to resolve disputes. It’s for

Lisa O’Carroll Brexit correspondent

Thank you for your feedback.

This would allow the UK to suspend EU checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from the UK, but could sour already strained relations.

Still, Ahern said he believes a deal is possible.

“This is not rocket science. I personally believe this is not an impossible task,” he told an audience of bipartisan Northern Irish politicians in Brussels.

He agreed with Democratic Unionist Party leader Sir Geoffrey Donaldson, saying the checks were “unfair” because they created barriers to the UK domestic market. But he said it was “equally unfair” to expect the EU not to protect its own single market.

Prospects for an early resolution or resumption of talks faded after Liz Truss on Wednesday appointed eurosceptic Chris Heaton-Harris and Steve Baker as Northern Ireland’s secretary and state secretary respectively.

EU officials expect relations to deteriorate further in the coming weeks.

The Biden administration sent a message to Liz Truss on her second day in office, warning against “an effort to cancel the protocol in Northern Ireland.”

Ahern also criticized the British government, claiming it had not approached negotiations with the intention of making a deal.

It was “not respectful or reasonable for the UK government” to simply dismiss the proposal put forward by the European Commission last October as “not comprehensive enough”, he said.

Ahern said another “big problem” was looming with plans to introduce legislation that would allow Britain to break parts of the protocol.

He said there would be no “hellish hope” of a deal with Britain if the legislation currently aimed at the Senate were passed.

“Where is the compromise?” he asked.

He said that simply deciding to “set aside” checks was a “empty debate” in Britain, but there were issues to discuss, including replacing physical checks with electronic ones. rice field.

“I doubt we’re talking about boats out at sea and buddies with clipboards…but technically, all of these goods are logged, so they could be checked.” is,” he said.



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