By Deirdre Tynan • 13 June 2021 • 13:41
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called EU comments about Northern Ireland “offensive”. The Foreign Secretary was speaking after French President Emmanuel Macron allegedly questioned the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom, and apparently it is not the first time it has happened.
Raab told Sky News on June 13, “We have serially seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it was some kind of different country to the UK. That is not only offensive, it has real world effects in the communities in Northern Ireland, creates great concern, creates great consternation. But also, could you imagine if we talked about Catalonia, the Flemish part of Belgium, one of the lander in Germany, northern Italy, Corsica in France as different countries? We need a bit of respect here, and also, frankly, an appreciation of the situation for all communities in Northern Ireland.”
The diplomatic spat comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson met European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council President, Charles Michel, at the G7 Summit in Cornwall as well as a separate bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s head of state, Angela Merkel, on June 12.
Following the meeting Johnson said, “Do seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country, a single territory. I just need to get that into their heads”.
On June 13, a spokesman for the UK government indicated that the EU has routinely failed to grasp that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, “The point that the foreign secretary was making is that he has had views, as have been reported this morning, put to him previously from those within the EU, and that is why it is important that we keep emphasising the territorial integrity of the entire United Kingdom.”
Edwin Poots, the new Democratic Unionist Party leader, also said the insinuation that Northern Ireland is not part of the UK is offensive.
“Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion that Northern Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom is offensive and demands a statement from the French administration which recognises Northern Ireland’s constitutional status,” he said in a press a statement today.
The UK has threatened to trigger Article 16 if the EU continues to impose what the UK sees as excessively bureaucratic checks on the export of frozen foods, including sausages and chicken nuggets, to Northern Ireland.
Also speaking to Sky News on June 13, the Irish Taioseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin, said triggering Article 16 would be “in nobody’s interest”.
“I think it will be very problematic because it’s not about sausages per se, it really is about the fact that an agreement had been entered into, not too long ago, signed off by the British government with the European Union,” he said.
“If there’s consistent, unilateral deviation from that agreement, that clearly undermines the broader relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, which is in nobody’s interest and therefore that’s why the UK with the EU have to work very hard now in the coming weeks,” he added.
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Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.
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