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Neale Richmond: We owe it to our friends in the UK to call out their bad behaviour

The Fine Gael TD says the government here owe it to the people to hold firm as UK politics continues to face upheaval.

Neale Richmond

I THINK WE can all agree that the past six years of the disastrous Brexit process have taken a very heavy toll on relations between Ireland and the United Kingdom, both North-South and East-West.

The past few weeks alone have brought these relations to a low not seen in decades; the intention of the British Government to break international law by overriding the Northern Ireland Protocol and going against the will of the people of Northern Ireland has brought deep disappointment across this island.

As Boris Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister will soon come to an end, both Ireland and the EU are faced with an opportunity to re-set our relations with the UK.

It is fair to say that under Boris Johnson, relations between the UK and Ireland and the EU have taken a nosedive. Resentment, harsh rhetoric, repeated violations of agreements as well as gaslighting techniques have occurred so often under this government they are now almost normalised.

Next Tory leader

Whether Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak become the new Prime Minister in September, and this is of course ultimately a choice for the Conservative party members, they have a perfect opportunity to put Boris Johnson’s wrongs to right.

What is required in this situation requires is a partner in London who will work to implement the Protocol in a way that works for everyone in the UK, most importantly everyone in Northern Ireland, and who can fulfil their obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

This opportunity can be summed up by simply stating that if the new Prime Minister truly acts in good faith, then relations will be on an improved path.

conservative-leadership-bid Rishi Sunak Source: PA

The impact that internal politics in the Conservative party have had on the people of Northern Ireland and indeed the people of the EU is quite boggling and at times depressing.

‘Distraction’

We simply cannot allow the next Prime Minister to use Northern Ireland as a distraction tool and a political play-thing in their quest for political success.

As such, the Irish Government will continue to stand up for what we believe to be right; to defend the people of Northern Ireland, to defend the Good Friday Agreement and to defend international law and the EU Single Market.

conservative-leadership-bid Liz Truss Source: PA

The best way to start this new relationship on the right track is to call for an emergency British Irish Council meeting as soon as a new Prime Minister takes position.

By approaching these conversations in an open and honest manner, always preferring to hammer out the issues in person rather than through terse media appearances and unwarranted legislation, we will improve relations tenfold.

As the old adage goes, a good friend is an honest friend. Ireland will always value our relationship with the UK, our ties run deep and always will.

As such we owe it to the people of the UK, many of them Irish, to call out bad behaviour when it impacts the people of Ireland and Britain, and seek to make it right.

In politics, we can disagree without being disagreeable however the time has come for the next Prime Minister to put this at the forefront of their relations with Ireland and the EU.

Neale Richmond is a Fine Gael TD and the party’s spokesperson on European Affairs.

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