Evoking support for Joe Biden, Michel Martin said the UK’s activation of Article 16 would be ‘reckless’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said a decision to launch Article 16 would have «far-reaching implications» for the UK government’s relations with Ireland and the European Union.

An Taoiseach said the UK-EU trade agreement was conditional on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol to the Brexit agreement.

The British government has threatened to release Article 16, a move that would effectively suspend the treaty unilaterally, and call for the removal of the European Court of Justice’s oversight role in its work.

Taoiseach said such a move would be «irresponsible, ill-advised and reckless» and would shake the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland.

Martin said he spoke with US President Joe Biden at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow this week, who told him «how the Good Friday Agreement is so important to his administration» and that this position has been made «unmistakably clear» to the British government.

Speaking in Today’s newspaper, Martin said: «In my opinion, it would be irresponsible, it would be prudent, and it would be reckless to invoke Article 16 as a response to the European Commission’s proposals.

I think if such an action was taken by the British government, I think it would have far-reaching implications for the relationship between the UK and the EU.

“I think it would also have repercussions on the relationship between the UK government and the Irish government, as such an action would not be in keeping with the spirit of partnership that has informed the peace process from the start.

“This has created the entire structure that supports the Good Friday Agreement. This is my very strong view.”

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Martin suggested a move to invoke Article 16 could have implications for the post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU.

«The British government signed the protocol as a condition of the trade cooperation agreement,» he said.

The EU would not have signed the Trade Cooperation Agreement had it not been for the signing of the Protocol in advance.

«So the British government knowingly signed on to it.»

He said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel had been «very clear about the implications that would arise if such a decision was taken».

He also revealed that US President Joe Biden had used the COP26 conference to emphasize his support for the Irish peace process.

Taoiseach said: “At COP26, President Biden requested a short conversation with me after one of the sessions, call me.

He reiterated to me in the strongest possible terms how deeply important the Good Friday Agreement is to his administration and to President Biden himself. He told me he made it very clear to the British government.

Martin has criticized the UK’s demands to the European Court of Justice in response to the European Commission’s efforts to facilitate implementation of the protocol.

He said the proposals put forward by Commission Vice-President Maros Sivkovic «go beyond what many people think the European Union will offer».

“In terms of SPS, for example, you are looking for an 80% reduction in checks, in terms of customs, a significant reduction in checks, and in terms of medicines, a complete solution to that, and then he said he is open to discussions with people.”

The interaction between Maros Sivkovic and key sectors in Northern Ireland confirmed that it was the operational issues that mattered most to them in terms of controls and in terms of the operation of the protocol.

«Opposition to the European Court of Justice in response to Sefkovic’s proposals is simply disingenuous and wrong.

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“Because anyone who knows about this knows that with regard to any issues arising from the operation of the single market, the European Court of Justice should be the governing body, that is acceptable.

«It is in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland that they have access to the single market.»

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