Unless the EU acts on two key points, violence is still possible: spokesperson for the loyalist group David Campbell
David Campbell, chairman of the Council of Loyalist Communities, made the comments today following a statement by EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic on Friday.
In this statement on Friday, the senior Brussels official said he had detected a “change of tone” on the British side of the negotiations, and said there had been “a useful engagement at the technical level”.
Responding to this statement, Mr Campbell said that despite the ‘upbeat’ rhetoric, what really matters is whether the EU is ready to compromise on two fundamental things – first, that any “permanent border infrastructure” requirement between Northern Ireland and Great Britain is abolished;
And second, that the European Court of Justice should “no longer settle trade disputes in Northern Ireland”.
If Mr. Sefcovic supports such proposals, “there may be the prospect of real progress.”
But he added: “If the answer is however no, then the European Commission still demands that the Belfast Agreement be violated and threatens a return to instability and potential violence in Northern Ireland.
“Notwithstanding any technical problems concerning trade, these are the two fundamental problems which must be eliminated to ensure the continuation of the relative harmony and stability which the Agreement has provided since 1998.”
The Loyalist Council currently chaired by Mr Campbell, a former UUP figurehead, effectively brings together various loyalist paramilitary groups and seeks to promote their views in the political arena.
Mr Sefcovic appeared as a guest today on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
He told the host that “if there is a real problem” with the emphasis of the News Letter protocol]then “we can find the solutions.”
The UK government admitted months ago that the headaches caused by the Irish Sea border the protocol created are so severe it can activate an emergency clause in the protocol called Article 16.
It says: “If the application of this protocol causes serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties which are likely to persist, or trade diversion, the Union or the United Kingdom may unilaterally take appropriate safeguard measures.
Basically, this means the UK has the right to completely suspend the protocol – but so far the Conservative government has been extremely reluctant to do so.
Mr Sefcovic said on the Marr show that the EU had already offered ‘gestures and solutions’ on their side, but added:’ We cannot reverse Brexit, especially the type such as the Kingdom. – Uni proposed it, negotiated and signed the agreement with us.
Regarding the invocation of article 16, Mr. Sefcovic said: “We are doing everything possible to avoid it because, of course, it will have serious consequences, first and foremost for the people of the country. Northern Ireland but also for the EU / UK. reports.”
A message from the editor:
Thanks for reading this story on our site. While I have your attention, I also have an important request for you.
With coronavirus lockdowns having had a major impact on many of our advertisers – and therefore the revenue we receive – we are more dependent than ever on your getting a digital subscription.
Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland & UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and access exclusive newsletters and content.
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to support them. By supporting us we are able to help you provide reliable and verified content for this website.