The Republic of Ireland's (ROI's) Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, has said that he firmly believes the Northern Ireland Protocol will work - if allowed to do so.

Minister Coveney and ROI's Minister of State, Thomas Byrne have welcomed an update on EU-UK talks on the NI Protocol and guarantees on the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland.

The Protocol was introduced to ease the paradox of Northern Ireland remaining part of the European Single Market, while also having access to the UK’s internal market.

Although the agreement allows goods to leave Northern Ireland for Britain, it has meant checks and restrictions apply for goods from Britain entering the region.

Coveney reaction

Minister Coveney said today's (December, 17) announcement is welcome as the EU and UK have agreed on the importance of continuing talks in 2022.

“I firmly believe the Protocol will work, if we allow it, with flexibility and pragmatism. A positive outcome to the current talks remains our key objective," he said.

Coveney said that both he and the European Commission vice-president, Maros Sefcovic, had spent a lot of time listening to stakeholders in Northern Ireland to understand the challenges they face.

"Reaching an agreed approach on the NI Protocol would be an important factor in allowing us all to turn a page and open up a new chapter of a positive forward-looking partnership between the EU and the UK.

"I will continue to encourage all parties to prioritise constructive engagement in pursuit of flexible and practical outcomes for people and businesses in Northern Ireland, " the minister said.

Coveney said a plan announced by the European Commission to ensure the security of supply of medicines from Britain to Northern Ireland "turns commitments in to solutions".

Minister Thomas Byrne said hardly any area of Irish life has been unaffected by Brexit.

The transition has been challenging, particularly for Irish businesses who have had to make significant changes to their operations and supply chains. However, in a testing time we have shown ourselves to be remarkably resilient and adaptable.

"Brexit will continue to have an impact on this island and the government remains committed to supporting businesses and working with all stakeholders as the consequences of the UK’s departure continue to be felt.

"It is my hope that an agreed approach on the Protocol will pave the way for even greater cooperation and partnership between the EU and the UK next year," Byrne concluded.