Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill has said Taoiseach Micheál Martin has committed to using his influence to smoothen the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Ms O’Neill made the comments after a discussion with the Taoiseach in Government Buildings in Dublin ahead of British prime minister Boris Johnson’s meetings with political leaders in Northern Ireland later on Monday.
The Mid-Ulster MLA said she and the Taoiseach discussed “all pressing political developments”, the stalemate at the Northern Ireland Assembly over the protocol in particular.
“He’s also on the same page in terms of the need to find ways to smooth the implementation of the protocol, but for that to be done jointly between the EU and the British government.
“He will use his office to bring his influence to bear on that.”
Met with An Taoiseach at government buildings this morning. Shared priority to have a functioning Assembly & Executive without delay. The democratic outcome of the election must be respected. People cannot wait a day longer for parties to get to work on their behalf. pic.twitter.com/1KzeZInVdo
— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) May 16, 2022
Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Johnson suggested that the protocol would remain but would be changed.
He said the protocol had been negotiated in “good faith”, adding that “those who want to scrap the protocol, rather than seeking changes, are focusing on the wrong thing”.
Ms O’Neill said Mr Johnson and the Conservative Party had been “shoring up the DUP’s bad behaviour” in relation to the protocol, and that a “pep talk” from the prime minister was not needed.
“I think all efforts and all attentions need to be turned to negotiated solutions, agreed solutions, find ways to smooth the implementation of the protocol because it is here to stay, and I think that’s an objective that both I and the Taoiseach share.”