Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan Brendan Smith has reiterated his call for an urgent resolution to the remaining issues relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol, so that people and businesses in the border area can “get on with their daily lives” once again.
Speaking with the Taoiseach in the Dail, Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “There is an urgency in trying to progress the issues concerning the protocol. In the area I represent, there is, fortunately, a huge amount of cross-Border trade and enterprise. The all-island economy has grown immensely since 1998. People want to ensure that any impediments to trade, business and commerce are removed.
“That is coming from all shades of political opinion and from all businesses that I have dealings with, both north and south of the Border. Many enterprises are based in both jurisdictions and there is a huge interdependence, as the Taoiseach knows, between the economies on both sides of the Border. It is in the interests of all the people of this island, and of Britain, to ensure the remaining issues that need to be resolved are put to bed as soon as possible and that we can get on with our daily lives, from both a business and travel point of view, and not have impediments to the movement of people, goods or services on our island or between our islands.”
In response to Deputy Smith’s question, Taoiseach Micheál Martin stated: “The focus has to remain on addressing genuine problems that have been raised. Reaching an agreed approach to the protocol is an important factor in allowing us all to turn the page and open up a new chapter in a forward-looking constructive EU–UK relationship and partnership. Flexibility and pragmatism, to which Deputy Smith referred, are key.
“It is emerging that the protocol is presenting significant opportunities for business and employment in Northern Ireland. I take what Deputy Smith said about his conversations this morning at the committee, indicating that people of all shades of opinion wanted a pragmatic solution to this. Northern Ireland is now the only place in the world that has free and full access to both the EU Single Market and the UK’s market.”
An Taoiseach added: “Invest Northern Ireland is seeing historically high levels of FDI interest in Northern Ireland. Investment announcements have been made throughout the year based on dual market access. Recent figures from the UK’s Office for National Statistics show the Northern Ireland economy has outperformed and recovered from the impact of Covid-19 faster than the rest of the UK. Recent polls on attitudes to the protocol show support across communities for solution-seeking and a pragmatic approach. That gives me hope that both sides can reach a conclusion in the best interest of the people of Northern Ireland.”