Amnesty proposal and NI protocol ‘troubling’ to Anglo-Irish relations, Martin says

Taoiseach says EU and UK must work to ensure post-Brexit friction does not derail Stormont

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he had spoken to British prime minister Boris Johnson about his concerns over a proposed Troubles-era amnesty.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he had spoken to British prime minister Boris Johnson about his concerns over a proposed Troubles-era amnesty. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The Taoiseach has described Britain’s proposal for an amnesty for Troubles-related crimes and its call for radical changes to the Northern Ireland protocol as “troubling challenges” in the relationship between Dublin and London.

Speaking at the British Irish Association conference in Oxford, Micheál Martin said he had spoken to British prime minister Boris Johnson about his concern over the amnesty proposal.

“We need to proceed on an agreed basis to deal with the painful legacy of the past for victims, families and survivors. I am very clear that all bereaved families should have access to an effective investigation and to a process of justice, regardless of the perpetrators,” he said.

Mr Martin said he had encouraged the European Commission to engage with businesses and citizens in Northern Ireland about the implementation of the protocol. But he said that any changes to how it is implemented must fall within the framework agreed between Britain and the EU.

“The EU is listening to Northern Ireland and it has demonstrated its ability to respond positively to the concerns of people in Northern Ireland. With the right political will, I believe that it will be possible to find sensible solutions to some of the outstanding issues, within the framework of the Protocol,” he said.

‘Spirit of partnership’

“I have no doubt that there is a willingness from the EU to engage and to work in good faith to minimise friction. And in my view progress is best made in the bodies set up under the agreement, in a spirit of partnership, working at EU-UK level for agreed ways to resolve the issues that arise.

“A positive and constructive future partnership is in everyone’s interest. But it will only be delivered if there is a relationship of trust, and a willingness to deliver on commitments entered into.”

He said the priority must be for Britain and the EU to work together to ensure that friction over the protocol does not derail the power-sharing institutions in Belfast and the gains of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

“The Good Friday Agreement was transformative but, unfortunately the vision of the Agreement has so far not been brought to its full potential,” he added. “We have never had a sufficiently sustained, stable period for the powersharing institutions in Belfast, and for the North South Ministerial Council and the east/west institutions of the agreement to work to their full potential - to build a fully healed society that transcends the divisions of our past.”