Ireland expert savages Liz Truss ‘big lie’ on Brexit deal row

NI protocol break to create 'horror scenarios' for EU says expert

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Concerns are growing over the security of the Good Friday Agreement, which since 1998 has maintained relative peace on the island of Ireland. Both the UK and the EU have accused each other of stalling over the agreement, with Britain threatening to tear up the deal and face a trade war with Brussels as a consequence.

Now, one commentator has taken the opportunity to savage Ms Truss, who is acting as Brexit Minister, over the ongoing negotiations and the notion of future priorities.

Writing in a comment piece entitled “Conservatives’ big lie is that the NI protocol is a threat to peace”, Katy Hayward said: “The prime minister, the foreign secretary, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the attorney general all claim that the protocol is “fundamentally undermining” the Belfast Agreement.

“In so doing, they are not prioritising peace over the protocol – they are doing quite the opposite.

“They are giving succour to those who want to destroy the agreement in principle, and they are rewarding and reinforcing behaviour which undermines it in practice.”

Loyalist communities in Northern Ireland have demonstrated strong opposition to the Protocol which they say has left them isolated and abandoned by London.

Threats of a return to violence over the deal have emerged, with one Loyalist stating the community would turn to “guerrilla warfare” over the deal.

Sinn Fein, now Northern Ireland’s largest party has urged the DUP to form an assembly at Stormont, yet the Unionists are refusing to align until a resolution over the deal is made.

The United States has also urged all parties to come to an agreement to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threatened trade would suffer if the situation was not handled.

She said: “As I have stated in my conversations with the prime minister, the foreign secretary and members of the House of Commons, if the United Kingdom chooses to undermine the Good Friday accords, the Congress cannot and will not support a bilateral free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.

“It is deeply concerning that the United Kingdom now seeks to unilaterally discard the Northern Ireland protocol, which preserves the important progress and stability forged by the accords.

“It continues to enjoy strong bipartisan and bicameral support in the United States Congress.”

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In her statement to Parliament on May 17, foreign secretary Liz Truss claimed the government, as “co-signatory and co-guarantor of the Belfast Good Friday agreement”, will “take the necessary decisions to preserve peace and stability.”

Ms Hayward, writing in the Irish Times said this strategy “amounts to breaking one international agreement to appease those who are in the course of breaking another international agreement – under the auspices of protecting the integrity and objectives of both.”

Speaking of how Brexit, and consequently, the Northern Ireland Protocol is playing a part in risking peace, Ms Hayward compared the conundrum as a game of football.

She said: “Peace can be threatened not only by violence but by eroding the conditions which foster it.

“Brexit risked doing so because it fundamentally changes the means and norms of co-operation across all three strands of the agreement.

“The protocol does not threaten peace in the same way.

“Blaming the protocol for damage to the 1998 agreement is like blaming the referee for an own goal.”

Ms Hayward, a Professor of Political Sociology at Queen’s University in Belfast ended her piece by suggesting Loyalist groups are turning to bully tactics to get their way and by using acts of intimidation.

She concluded: “Such acts of aggression are not motivated by the protocol.

“They are motivated by a refusal to let Northern Ireland prosper and grow.”

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