You’re making it worse! Irish ex-diplomat lambasts Biden for wading into Brexit row
Joe Biden 'inflaming' Northern Ireland tensions says Mulvaney
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And Ray Bassett told Express.co.uk it was crucial to tone down the war of words on the issue – while accusing his own country’s government, led by Taoiseach Micheal Martin, of a ”huge lack of proportion”. Mr Biden, who has strong Irish family connections, flew in to the UK yesterday for the G7 summit in Cornwall.
Speaking yesterday, Jake Sullivan, the US national security advisor, told the BBC it was “critical to ensuring that the spirit, promise and future of the Good Friday Agreement is protected”.
It has also been widely reported that US charge d’affaires Yael Lampert has issued a demarche, defined as “a request or intercession with a foreign official”, which amounts to a formal rebuke.
Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told this website: “I believe that we need to dial down the rhetoric and calm the situation. We need a local solution to a local problem.
The US would be better advised to make their views known privately and then quietly assist both sides in getting a solution.
He explained: “Demarches are for countries which are not your close friends.
“However I fully accept that the US has a deep interest in the situation and that the President is sincere.”
Looking back to the 1990s, and the background to the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement, with which Mr Basseett was involved, he added: “The Clinton and Bush administrations were very effective in giving Dublin and London all the support we wanted behind closed doors but absolutely avoided taking sides between the Irish and British Governments in public.
“This also allowed the US to be seen by Republicans and Loyalists as an impartial mediator and contributed to the success of Senator Mitchell.”
Relations between Dublin and London have been strained as a result of Brexit, with Mr Martin’s predecessor Leo Varadkar sticking closely to Brussels’ position on the subject, something Mr Bassett regards as having served to increase tension over the years.
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He said: “I believe that the whole situation has become inflamed here in Ireland. There has been a huge lack of proportion.
“The open land border in Ireland is not a huge threat to the integrity of the EU single market.”
The problems stem from vastly increased number of checks on goods travelling between Northern Ireland, which in accordance with the terms of the trade deal agreed in December, are still subject to EU rules and regulations, and Great Britain.
As a result, they are subject to a raft of checks, angering the Unionist community, which believes in effect a border has been placed down the Irish Sea.
Mr Bassett said: “We need to sit down and devise a scheme to operate a combination of a trusted trader system among large firms, re enforced with spot checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and also between the Republic of Ireland and the EU mainland.
“We cannot continue with demanding detailed documentation on every consignment that arrives in Northern Ireland ports from Great Britain.
“The EU seems to want to use the NI Protocol as a trail of strength with London.”
He added: “Maybe it is my background but I prefer to keep disagreements between friendly Governments within the normal diplomatic channels unless it is absolutely necessary to go public.
“Once something is said in public it is harder to retract.
“The US has been a good friend of Ireland and the UK, especially in the Peace Process, so I am reluctant to attack President Biden but as I said I would have preferred if the discussions had been less overt.
“The Irish and the British Governments, as well as all parties in the North, agree the Protocol in its present format is not working so that is a good basis to get a settlement.”
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