US Representative Richard Neal expresses concerns over Irish border and trade with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday amid fears over potential changes in relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Johnson has raised concerns in some quarters by warning that the UK could trigger Article 16 – the waiver mechanism that suspends parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement section of the European Union 2019, or “Brexit,” which covers regional trade.
President Joe Biden opposes the closure of the Irish border or any changes that would undo the improved relations that followed the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Neal said he had a long discussion with Johnson during his visit to the United States Capitol over a range of issues, including a possible review of the Northern Ireland protocol.
“As chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, I shared my firm belief that any agreement reached between the UK and the EU on the future of the protocol must not undermine the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement or threaten the institutions it created. “said Neal.
He added: “Having worked with five British Prime Ministers throughout the peace process, I reminded Prime Minister Johnson that everyone must make sacrifices to achieve this historic deal, and that 23 years later, it remains a model for successful conflict resolution around the world. “
The congressman said Johnson assured him there would be no return to a hard border on the Irish island and that the British government remained committed to fully implementing the 1998 peace agreement.
A strong supporter of the Irish peace process, Neal has served as co-chair of the ad hoc committee on Irish affairs and chairman of the Friends of Ireland since 2007.
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