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Taoiseach says UK under ‘no illusions’ about opposition to Brexit Bill

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Ireland supported the EU’s legal action against the UK Government.

Image: PA

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said the European Commission legal proceedings against the UK were “to be expected”.

Martin said the UK was “under no illusions” about the strength of opposition to its unilateral actions but he was “hopeful” the talks could get to a more “intense phase over the next week or so”.

He made the comments following a bilateral meeting with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels.

The Taoiseach travelled to Belgium to attend a special meeting of the European Council today.

It comes as the EU announced it will begin legal proceedings over Boris Johnson’s Internal Market Bill, which overrides key elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland.

Martin said: “We support the Commission in its actions.

“It gave the United Kingdom a month to respond in relation to withdrawing the Internal Market Bill and the unilateral action it took in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol.

“I met with the president, she appraised me of the decision taken by the Commission.

“We also discussed how we will deal with Brexit over the coming weeks.”

Martin said there was “concern” across Europe at the unilateral action by the British government on the Northern Ireland protocol and that the UK Government needed to “resile” from that.

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“Parallel with that we are conscious of the need to conclude a comprehensive relationship agreement with the UK which is in the best interests of the people of Europe, the UK and Ireland,” he said.

“A sensible free trade agreement is something that we are seeking also.”

While Martin said he was hopeful that talks would become more intense he also cautioned that the issues were “very substantive”.

“I think the mood is moving in the right direction towards better engagement, that’s always important in terms of negotiations of this kind but there are serious challenges ahead.”

He said it would “remain to be seen” how the UK would respond to the EU’s actions.

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