British showing ‘bad faith’ by refusing to allow EU open Belfast office after Brexit

FF leader Micheál Martin tells Dáil ‘no one in Northern Ireland appears to object to idea’

The British government seems to be showing ‘bad faith’ by refusing to agree to the establishment of a European Union office in Belfast after Brexit, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

The British government seems to be showing ‘bad faith’ by refusing to agree to the establishment of a European Union office in Belfast after Brexit, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

 

The British government seems to be showing “bad faith” by refusing to agree to the establishment of a European Union office in Belfast after Brexit, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said.

He told the Dáil that “ Brexit hasn’t gone away” as TDs debated the EU response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Martin said important decisions would have to be made in the coming weeks and months about how to handle the UK’s departure from the EU.

Brexit will be debated in the Dáil on Thursday but the Cork South-Central TD said that the decision by the British government not to agree to an EU office for the North “is both of concern and in my view potentially highly divisive”.

British cabinet minister Michael Gove said last week that there was no need for a “mini embassy” in Belfast.

Mr Gove said the government would facilitate, where necessary, ad hoc visits by EU officials to Northern Ireland but Britain did not accept any permanent EU presence was required in Belfast.

“The extraordinary position of London, that no European Union office would be agreed for Belfast appears like a demonstration of bad faith concerning the operationalising of what has been agreed relating to Northern Ireland,” he said.

“It maybe some form of negotiating tactic, the logic of which remains hidden.”

The Fianna Fáil leader said there was “nothing positive about London citing a concern with community divisions in Northern Ireland, which has not existed before.

“No one in Northern Ireland appears to object to the idea that there’ll be any European Union office in Belfast.”