By Ahmet Gencturk
ANKARA (AA) – The Irish prime minister has accepted the Northern Ireland protocol of Brexit that allowed goods to be transported across the Irish land border without the need for checks, is “too strict,” British media reported on Tuesday.
Drawing attention that Brexit was imposed on Northern Ireland without cross-community consent, without the support of the majority of people living there, Leo Varadkar said he understands what the unionist population of Northern Ireland feels, according to the Guardian newspaper.
“I do understand how they feel about the protocol. They feel that it diminishes their place in the Union, that it creates barriers between Britain and Northern Ireland that didn’t exist before,” he added.
Varadkar, however, noted that Brexit similarly alienated the Catholic nationalist population of Northern Ireland.
“So I understand that there are two sides to this story. A lot of people who are unionists feel that the protocol has separated them from Great Britain. A lot of people from a nationalist background in Northern Ireland feel that it separated them from the rest of Ireland,” he said.
As such, he said, he will be flexible and reasonable to solve the issues related to the protocol.
- Northern Ireland Protocol
The Northern Ireland Protocol necessitates border checks on any animal and plant-based products, including frozen meat and processed meat products before their transport to Northern Ireland, which is aligned with EU rules and regulations.
The protocol creates a de facto trade border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and rest of the UK.
The UK left the bloc on Jan. 31, 2020, as a result of a 2016 referendum that ended the country’s more than 40-year-long membership in the European club.
The agreement signed by the sides included the Northern Ireland Protocol, which practically avoided a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The protocol has been a point of disagreement between Northern Irish nationalists and unionists.