EU condemns violence in Northern Ireland

Brussels, April 9 (IANS) The European Commission has strongly condemned the violence in Northern Ireland which erupted last week over a post-Brexit trading arrangement.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the acts of violence that have occurred in Northern Ireland over the past days. Nobody has anything to gain from this. We call on all those involved to refrain immediately from these violent acts,” the Commission’s chief spokesperson Eric Mamer tweeted on Thursday.

British and Irish leaders have also called for an end to the riots.

“The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“I utterly condemn the violent attacks on police, a journalist, and bus driver over recent days in The North. Now is the time for the two Governments and leaders on all sides to work together to defuse tensions and restore calm,” tweeted Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin.

The Northern Ireland Executive also said on Thursday that it is “gravely concerned” by the recent riots in the region in which more than 50 police officers have been injured.

Riots erupted last week in Belfast, Northern Ireland between nationalists, loyalists and the police over the Northern Ireland Protocol, the trading arrangement which they claim has created barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain.

The latest development followed several nights of unrest in loyalist communities amid tensions over the Protocol within the Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union (EU).

The Protocol, as an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement, was ratified by the two sides and has been in force since February 1, 2020.

“The protocol was agreed to protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland, to protect the Good Friday and Belfast agreement, to protect North-South cooperation, to avoid a hard border,” said European Commission spokesperson for EU-UK relations Daniel Ferrie.

On March 31, the European executive arm received a draft UK-EU work program from the Britain, following the bloc’s request to be provided with “a credible roadmap with clear deliverables and milestones for the implementation of the protocol”, said Ferrie.

The document is currently being reviewed by the European Commission, and contacts at the technical level have been established between the two parties, he added.

–IANS

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