The NI Protocol is on the agenda of the British-Irish Conference

The first British-Irish intergovernmental conference in over two years will take place in Dublin today.

Cooperation in tackling the coronavirus and concerns about the impact of the delta variable will also be discussed.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and Justice Minister Heather Humphreys will meet Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis and Junior Minister Robin Walker at Dublin Castle.

They are also expected to discuss how to deal with the legacy of the unrest after the British government’s controversial announcement that it plans to ban the trial of ex-soldiers. The Irish government said it was strongly opposed to any such move.

Minister Coveney said yesterday that he looked forward to welcoming Mr. Lewis for discussions on «inter-island cooperation and strengthening ties».

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis

The Northern Ireland Minister and Minister engaged in regular discussions in the days before the British government agreed to Sinn Féin’s request to make a commitment to introduce Irish language legislation.

The governments in Dublin and London hoped to end a political crisis that threatened the future of Stormont’s power-sharing administration.

But an internal DUP revolt over the deal has forced party leader Edwin Potts to announce his resignation after just 21 days in office, with Jeffrey Donaldson set to replace him.

The DUP’s selection as first minister, Paul Gevan, was told he would ask to resign as soon as a new leader took office, and that would result in another seven days for the party and Sinn Fein to agree to return to government together again.

The two governments are still on a collision course over how to deal with the protocol, with the European Union expected to agree to the UK’s request to extend grace periods on refrigerated meat.

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Mr Lewis said yesterday that it was reasonable to take the view that changes would be made to the protocol because it was «unsustainable» in its current form.

The Irish government has consistently said the protocol must be implemented and has encouraged the UK to enter into a compromise agreement with the EU to reduce the need for inspections at Northern Ireland ports.

The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference is one of two institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement with the aim of strengthening relations and promoting cooperation on matters of common interest.

He has not met since the London talks in May 2019.

A meeting was scheduled for November 2019, but was canceled as a result of the British general election and could not be rearranged due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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