‘Landing zones’ in place for deal on NI protocol, says Coveney

British foreign secretary says progress being made following talk with Minister

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: ‘Progress on key issues in February is possible if United Kingdom and European Union work in partnership.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has indicated that he believes there are "landing zones" for a deal on the post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Mr Coveney spoke with UK foreign secretary Liz Truss on Friday, as negotiations between the UK and the EU continue over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Late on Friday, Mr Coveney tweeted that it was “good to talk” with Ms Truss.

“Work to do, but there are landing zones that allow the protocol to be implemented in a way that responds positively to concerns raised in Northern Ireland.


"Progress on key issues in February is possible if United Kingdom and European Union work in partnership."

Ms Truss also tweeted following the meeting.

She said it was important that all sides "work constructively together to find solutions that address the problems in NI and protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement".

The Northern Ireland protocol, part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland by placing a customs and regulatory border in the Irish Sea, which is opposed by many unionists.

The DUP has repeatedly threatened to withdraw its ministers from the Northern Executive – potentially collapsing the powersharing institutions – if changes are not made to the Irish Sea border.

The foreign secretary this week expressed her determination to secure a deal on the protocol that can command universal support in Northern Ireland.

Ms Truss made the comments after meeting business and political leaders in the North on Thursday.

She said: “What I want is a deal that works for everyone. We are making progress. We’re having constructive talks.

“I want to make significant progress by February. That’s important but it’s important that we secure the support of all of the communities in Northern Ireland, including the unionist community.”

On Thursday, the North's First Minister Paul Givan set February 21st as a potential deadline for progress to be made in negotiations betweeen the UK and the EU.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the majority in the North wanted the protocol to work and accused the DUP of “undermining politics”.– PA