Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said businesses in Northern Ireland are already seeing the positive impacts of the deal struck between the EU and the UK to reform the Northern Ireland protocol, despite a political impasse over it which blocked the restoration of the power-sharing Assembly.
The so-called Windsor Framework agreed by the European Union and the UK to reform the Northern Ireland protocol has been resisted by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which said it does not sufficiently address its concerns.
It has made clear it will not accept a return to devolution until the UK government provides further assurances, by way of legislation, over Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market.
“I think when it comes to restoring institutions in Northern Ireland that’s largely an issue now between the DUP and the UK government,” the Taoiseach said on Saturday.
“We always stand ready to help in any way that we can but fundamentally the issues that need to be discussed are to be discussed between the UK government and the DUP and that’s ongoing.”
However, he said that when it comes to the practicalities of the Windsor framework, “businesses in Northern Ireland [are] getting on with this. We can see there are huge opportunities. Northern Ireland has this unique position having access to the British market and full access to the EU market as well.”
Britain’s prime minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday that the agreement of the framework removed the big stumbling block to the return of the Stormont Assembly.
However, DUP MP Sammy Wilson said on Friday that the changes will “confirm” a border in the Irish Sea, adding that his party would not return to the powersharing institutions at Stormont as it would be legally required to implement the framework.