Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney labelled Britain’s Brexit Minister David Frost’s comments on potentially triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol as “tough talk” to Tories, not to be listened to.
inister Frost made comments at a Conservative Party conference that the British Government would use Article 16 when the Government needed to.
But Mr Coveney told Morning Ireland on RTÉ: “There’s been a lot of tough talk this week from Lord Frost.
“We do have to put those comments in the context of him speaking at a Conservative Party conference.
“Of course, we listen very carefully to everything he said. My understanding is the British Government is not likely to trigger Article 16 soon.”
He said while Minister Frost had made such public claims, the scenes behind closed doors, had seen British, Irish and EU counterparts working together to attempt to “reduce friction on trade and impact on checks in Northern Ireland ports.”
“We are all trying to work to that end,” he added. “The protocol is a legal document that won’t change.”
The Government was working with Britain and the EU to “reduce its impact” he added.
“I wouldn’t read too much in the tough talk at a Conservative Party Conference.”
Talks between Ireland, the UK and EU are, he added, “what really matters.”
RTÉ reported Minister Frost had told a Conservative Party Conference: “We are at a crunch point in the next month or so.
“We have not yet had a proper answer from the EU to the proposals we’ve put down on Northern Ireland – hopefully that will come soon…
“I will try my best to get an agreement that meets what we need in those few weeks but if we can’t, then we will be in Article 16 territory.
“I would guess crunch point comes at some point, next month…”