Poots sends copy of Belfast Agreement to Macron

Ulster politics (PA Wire)
16:15pm, Sun 13 Jun 2021
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DUP Leader Edwin Poots said he has sent French President Emmanuel Macron a copy of the Belfast Agreement to remind him about Northern Ireland’s constitutional status.

The move came after the French president reportedly suggested Northern Ireland was not part of the UK during his talks with Mr Johnson in the margins of the G7 summit.

The exchange led Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to tell Sky News: “We have serially seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it was some kind of different country to the UK. It is not only offensive, it has real world effects on the communities in Northern Ireland, creates great concern, great consternation.

“Could you imagine if we talked about Catalonia, the Flemish part of Belgium, one of the lander in Germany, northern Italy, Corsica in France as different countries? We need a bit of respect here.”

G7 Foreign and Development Ministers meeting (PA Wire)

The exchange came amid ongoing problems between the UK Governmant and the EU with the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol, which was designed to ensure a border would not be introduced on the island of Ireland to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

The protocol sees Northern Ireland continue to follow many of the EU rules on trade.

But the regulatory border in the Irish Sea has infuriated unionists who have called for the protocol to be scrapped.

In response to Mr Macron’s reported remarks, Mr Poots said he had written to him and attached a copy of the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

Key leaders in the European Union clearly do not even understand the basics let alone the finer details

Mr Poots said: “Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion that Northern Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom is offensive and demands a statement from the French administration which recognises Northern Ireland’s constitutional status.

“This also exposes the ignorance which lies at the heart of the EU. They seem blind to the destruction the protocol has caused to the Belfast Agreement.

“It’s five years since the (Brexit) referendum. Northern Ireland has been centre stage for most of that time yet the most powerful man in one of the most powerful EU countries still doesn’t realise that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. It’s incredible.”

The DUP leader added: “Key leaders in the European Union clearly do not even understand the basics let alone the finer details.

“It is time for the Government to stop talking about fixes to the protocol and get on with taking the necessary steps to remove it.”

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