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Brandon Lewis and US delegation discuss protocol dispute

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has met members of a US congressional delegation at Hillsborough Castle on Wednesday night.

Chairman of the United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means Richard Neal is main the delegation that has met political leaders in Ireland, the UK and Belgium.

On Tuesday, Mr Neal was criticised by unionists for claiming the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol appeared “manufactured” and that it was “up to London” to assist discover a resolution.

After the meeting, Mr Lewis stated he and the delegation shared “a deep commitment” to the Good Friday Agreement and peace in Northern Ireland.

“I emphasised the importance of addressing protocol issues, as well as the need for NI parties to form an Executive,” Mr Lewis stated.

Mr Lewis was to stipulate the “significant” issues the UK Government has with the protocol that he stated Northern Ireland companies have registered with him and UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and the necessity for the EU to have a extra versatile mandate to deal with these.

He was additionally to emphasize that the UK Government’s “firm” desire was for a negotiated resolution with the EU.

Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Mr Lewis stated: “My top priority right now is to see a return to fully functioning devolved institutions in Northern Ireland. This is crucial for NI to embrace its full potential and, to support this, we must resolve the issues with the protocol.

“The UK Government’s proposed legislation offers solutions to the issues caused by the protocol and has been designed to help protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

“Our legislation would remove all customs processes for goods moving within the United Kingdom, so that moving goods between Belfast and Liverpool is no different to moving goods between Birmingham and Liverpool – as it should be.

“We are not suggesting a removal of the protocol. Our legislation will protect the parts that work and fix those that don’t so that we can deliver for all of the people of Northern Ireland.”

The US congressional delegation met with Foreign Secretary Truss and the Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan throughout a go to to London final weekend.

On Monday and Tuesday, Mr Neal and his colleagues met with Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Micheal Martin, and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

Mr Neal turned the primary member of the US Congress to deal with Ireland’s higher home, Seanad Eireann, on Tuesday afternoon, and obtained a spherical of applause from Irish senators when he stated that households on each side of the divide in Northern Ireland wanted solutions and closure from the ache inflicted throughout The Troubles.

The US congressional delegation, made up of 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans, is in Northern Ireland on Wednesday and Thursday to satisfy with political leaders.

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