Responding to the speech by DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson this morning, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney T.D said:
“We take unionist concerns in relation to the protocol seriously and we have consistently sought to listen and engage with those concerns, just as we have with the perspectives of everyone across Northern Ireland. The Taoiseach and Tánaiste met with Jeffrey Donaldson to discuss these issues in detail in the last two weeks.
“However, no positive agenda is served by blocking practical North/South Cooperation or by the breakdown of the other institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.
“The North South Ministerial Council has an important agenda this autumn including on improving health services, managing environmental challenges, cooperating in education and investing in infrastructure. As we emerge from the Covid pandemic, we should be focussed on working together to support communities and businesses across the island.
“We believe people want to see a positive commitment from everyone to resolve issues, not the creation of any new cliff edges or instability.
“The EU is already listening closely to concerns in Northern Ireland and is ready to work in good faith to minimise friction.
“Vice President Šefčovič is in Belfast today listening to voices across the whole of Northern Ireland society and business and engaging on the issues, and the opportunities, around the Protocol.
“Ireland has been, and will continue to be, a strong voice at EU level to encourage solutions and I look forward to speaking to Vice President Šefčovič tomorrow to engage further on the detail. Our focus should be on achieving positive progress. We remain confident that solutions do exist, within the parameters of the Protocol, for the issues that have arisen.”
9 September 2021