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Simon Coveney urges new British PM not to breach international law on Northern Ireland protocol

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Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney speaks to the media at Grand Central Hotel in Belfast Photo: David Young/PA Wire

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney speaks to the media at Grand Central Hotel in Belfast Photo: David Young/PA Wire

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney speaks to the media at Grand Central Hotel in Belfast Photo: David Young/PA Wire

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has urged the new UK prime minister not to breach international law in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol.

Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are now going head to head in the contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

Speaking in Belfast, Mr Coveney declined to say which candidate he would prefer to win, but said that he knows Ms Truss better than Mr Sunak.

However, Ms Truss was an architect in driving UK legislation which aims to undo Northern Ireland’s special trade status.

“We’ll work with whoever the new [Conservative party] leader is, whoever the new prime minister is, of course, we hope that the new prime minister won’t pursue a strategy of breaking international law and breaking their word to Ireland the EU,” said Mr Coveney.

“We spent many years trying to put together the withdrawal agreement that could manage the disruption of Brexit. We have to respect the decisions around Brexit.

“We’ve also got to listen to people in Northern Ireland who have concerns around the protocol.”

He said these concerns should be met with “flexibility compromise and pragmatism”

Mr Coveney said the EU should not accept the UK government acting “unilaterally” and breaking international law around the protocol.

“What the EU can’t do is accept a British government decision to act unilaterally, to legislate domestically to breach international law, to set aside commitments made in international treaty.”

“That is not the way to behave with your neighbours,” he said.

He said other countries are “taken aback” by the UK government and its actions around the protocol, which have been strongly criticised by the Irish government.

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