Taking a stand on the NI protocol


Sir, – Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has warned against a snap election in Northern Ireland, saying that it could end up being a “referendum” on the Northern Ireland protocol instead of focusing on day-to-day issues (News, June 19th). Would this really be such a bad thing?

The UK general election in December 2019 was framed, both by voters and by the political parties, as a referendum on Brexit. At our own general election in February 2020, Fine Gael sought (inexplicably) to frame the election as being about Brexit. On my desk I have an election leaflet with Mr Coveney’s face on it which booms: “Brexit is not done yet. It’s only half-time”. Is it Mr Coveney’s position that voters in the Republic deserved a chance to vote on how to deal with the aftermath of Brexit, but that voters in Northern Ireland should be denied that right?

Article 18 of the protocol gives the Northern Ireland Assembly the explicit power to grant or withhold democratic consent for its continued operation after four years by a weighted majority vote. Surely the parties in Northern Ireland are entitled to take a position on where they stand in advance of this vote? If Mr Coveney, or the British or Irish governments, view it as objectionable for parties to take positions on the protocol, then why was this provision for democratic consent included in the first place? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.