June 16, 2022

Northern Ireland Protocol update - Brexit

Northern Ireland Protocol Bill

On the 13th of June 2022, the British government introduced the Northern Ireland Protocol bill which aims to “fix” certain parts of the protocol as agreed between the United Kingdom and the European Union in 2018, which they say is allowed to do in order to safeguard an essential interest.

The protocol or “The Backstop” was supported by The Irish government and Northern Ireland political organizations Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance Party and the Green Party, however conversely Unionist political parties the DUP, UUP, and the TUV who are opposed to any arrangements that separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom objected.

In order to avoid any situation that would bring troubles back to NI, Boris Johnson, who became the Prime Minister in 2019, has sought to replace the backstop on the basis that it will result in political unrest and therefore against the Good Friday Agreement. 

The UK is proposing a change to the method of moving goods into Northern Ireland that they believe will retain the open border between the Republic of Ireland. Which are:

Arriving goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain is split into two lanes;

Goods that will remain in Northern Ireland will go into a Green Lane whereby there will be no checks conducted

Goods that are destined to go into the EU will be placed in the Red Lane, where customs and other regularity checks will take place prior to release.

Although the bill is still in its early transition through the UK parliament and is yet to go through its second reading, the European Union has now re-launched the previously paused legal action against the UK for failing to implement border checks for goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain in response to the bill reaching its first reading. The bill may not even reach the second reading if there is no commitment from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to return to the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland, the formation of which was blocked by them on the 9th May 2022.

Further updates will be posted here, if you have any questions, please reach out!

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