Slow progress of UK-EU talks a ‘real threat’ to peace process

Slow progress of UK-EU talks a 'real threat' to peace process

The slow progress of UK-EU talks poses a “real threat” to the Northern Ireland peace process, Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said in her first discussion with her northern counterpart.

Ms McEntee spoke with Justice Minister Naomi Long by phone yesterday in their first direct conversation since the formation of the new Irish government last month, discussing issues including COVID-19, paramilitarism and Brexit.

Speaking after the meeting, Ms McEntee said: “We are concerned that there will be no UK-EU agreement in place by the end of the transition period, particularly given that an extension to the transition period was not requested.

“It is very much to be desired that a detailed and comprehensive agreement between the UK and the EU will be in place by end December 2020 for police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

“If the existing excellent level of cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI is undermined, that poses a real threat to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

“The threat of a resurgence in paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland is very real, and the ability to counter that threat could be seriously undermined with the loss of the toolbox provided for by EU instruments.”

Ms McEntee and Ms Long are expected to meet in person for the first time at the North South Ministerial Council meeting next week.

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