Tuesday, 22 November 2022
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
There were many sides to that dirty war. It was not just one side. Our focus now has to be on trying to be positive about getting to solutions. That is my focus and the Taoiseach's focus. There is not a proposed deal from Prime Minister Sunak. There has been a variety of commentary about Swiss-style arrangements and so forth, much of which is not accurate. Time and space are required for two experienced negotiating teams to work through the areas, which both sides understand very well, in regard to reaching landing zones using pragmatism and flexibility within the confines of the protocol, because the legal wording of the Treaty, which is now international law, is not going to change. However I believe the protocol can be implemented in a way that is different from what many people perceive to be a negative impact on trade from Great Britain into Northern Ireland. We can improve the implementation of the protocol significantly. I believe the EU is willing to do that but it needs a partner that is also willing to compromise and to ensure there is proper, real-time sharing of data and so on, in order that the risks the EU has to manage in regard to the integrity of its own Single Market - this is not just about Ireland and Northern Ireland but about the Single Market for all 27 countries in it - can be managed as well. Unfortunately, time is dragging on and running out. There are not that many weeks left between now and Christmas, by which time many people had hoped we could get a deal. In many ways, the less megaphone diplomacy we have on this issue and the more honest and detailed interaction between the two negotiating teams in London and Brussels, the better at this stage. What is needed of course is a green light politically to both negotiating teams to get the job done through sensible compromises.