Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Business leaders tell US delegation compromise is needed over NI Protocol

Chairman of the United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means, Richard Neal, has met business groups in Northern Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)
Chairman of the United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means, Richard Neal, has met business groups in Northern Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

Business leaders have told a bipartisan US delegation the UK Government and the EU will both have to compromise to sort out difficulties with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The US group, led by Congressman Richard Neal, met a number of business organisations in the final engagement in their fact-finding trip to the island of Ireland to discuss issues around the post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Northern Ireland is without a functioning devolved executive after the DUP refused to support the re-establishment of powersharing at Stormont as part of their protest against the protocol.

Unionists oppose the arrangements which have created economic barriers on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss recently announced an intention to introduce legislation to override some elements of the protocol, but has stated that her preferred outcome is a negotiated agreement with the EU.

Business leaders told members of the influential House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means on Friday that the UK and EU should sit down in a room together with representatives from Northern Ireland to resolve the current trading difficulties.

The meeting with the US delegation included representatives from Logistics UK, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, the CBI, the Ulster Farmers’ Union, Manufacturing NI, the NI Meat Exporters Association, the Institute of Directors and retail groups.

Brexit
Seamus Leheny, policy manager at Logistics UK, met the US delegation on Friday (Liam McBurney/PA)

Speaking afterward, Seamus Leheny, policy manager at Logistics UK, said: “We basically told them that the UK and the EU both have to move on this. It is a negotiation.

“Full implementation of the protocol isn’t practical, it won’t work.

“We are working on a basis of partial protocol implementation at the moment. That has proven problematical for some supply chains.

“It was made clear to them some areas where the protocol is good, where it is beneficial. For our manufacturers and exporters, things are very good.

“But for the retail goods coming into Northern Ireland, that is where the difficulties lie.”

Mr Leheny added: “It is going to take some negotiations. There have been good ideas put forward by both the UK and the EU of how to get there.

“We made it very clear to the Americans that we value their engagement, their influence and their mediation in this in seeking compromise and agreement.

“They have a genuine interest and a very good understanding. Normally for one of their committees to go and spend five days in a country, in Ireland north and south, it is unheard of. We are very lucky to get this amount of airtime.

“We made it very clear they are welcome and that their assistance in sorting out the protocol is welcome.”

He added: “They heard about the pros and cons of the protocol and it really just comes down to getting people in a room.

“As Congressman Neal said, what the US did with the Good Friday Agreement, getting people into a room and negotiating, that is what it is going to take.

“There is going to have to be compromise and ultimately getting to that agreement to make it work because what is the alternative?”

“We need the UK, the EU in the room with people from Northern Ireland to talk through what needs to happen.

“What is happening is that they are talking over each other a lot of the time. We are going round in circles.”

Brexit
The Northern Ireland Protocol has led to checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

The US delegation has now left Northern Ireland. Earlier this week Mr Neal faced intense unionist criticism for describing the protocol dispute as a “manufactured issue”.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson heavily criticised Mr Neal after meeting him at Stormont, describing the delegation’s fact-finding mission as the “most undiplomatic visit” he had ever seen to Northern Ireland.