Jim Shannon was speaking to former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern during the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee. During the evidence session Mr Shannon asked Mr Ahern if he agreed with Tony Blair who said reaching a deal on the Protocol “is not a matter of technical work but political will and leadership”.
Commenting from Westminster Mr Shannon said,
“Former Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern were central to the Belfast and successor Agreements. It is interesting that both of them now recognise the need for political leadership in Brussels and London as opposed to technical talks.
The Protocol is undermining the Belfast Agreement. The EU should take note and recognise the harm the Protocol is doing to political stability in Northern Ireland. The political will to get a solution which respects Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom has been absent for too long.
There will be no solid basis for an Executive and Assembly until the Protocol is replaced with arrangements that restore NI’s place in the U.K. internal market and our constitutional arrangements are respected.
It would be unwise for London or Brussels to ignore the views of unionists. Progress is only made in Northern Ireland with the support of unionists and nationalists. If no nationalists supported the Protocol, Washington, London, Brussels and Dublin would be demanding change.”