Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

12.08 11 Sep 2020


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The British approach to the Brexit withdrawal agreement has been labelled "sharp practice" by the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Talks on a new trade deal are deadlocked and there is a major row over a Bill proposing changes to the Northern Ireland protocol.

Yesterday, following a meeting between senior officials, the EU Commission called on the UK to withdraw its Internal Market Bill "by the end of the month".

Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show today, Bertie Ahern said the actions by the UK government in the past week have been "really unhelpful".

He said: "It really is bad faith, I don't like upping the ante and being over emotive, but this is sharp practice in the extreme."

He said the UK was "setting aside and overriding international law" and that the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney should have been consulted before they published the Bill.

Mr Ahern said: "We didn't bring this about, we weren't consulted as a country, I think they disrespected our Minister for Foreign Affairs that they could have easily had a dialogue with him and he's obviously annoyed and rightly so.

"So we're just going to have to see where it goes over the next week or two."

Good Friday Agreement

The former Taoiseach rejected suggestions by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the planned legislation is aimed at protecting the Good Friday Agreement.

He said: "The protocol was agreed as part of the withdrawal agreement was designed to operate in all circumstances, including in the absence of an agreement on the future relationship.

"The withdrawal agreement affirms in black and white the constitutional status of Northern Ireland as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

"This idea that [Boris Johnson] is doing this to help the Good Friday Agreement is just nonsense.

Mr Ahern added that the UK's "arrogance" this week had been "extraordinary" and the only option for Ireland was to "stand absolutely firm".

He said: "It's very hard to see why they would want to breach an international agreement and believe they can just tell the EU and America and Ireland where to get off.

"It's very hard to understand the logic."

Main image: Bertie Ahern giving evidence to the Exiting the European Union Committee in the House of Commons in London last year. Photo: House of Commons/PA Archive/PA Images

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