Dundalk could be new home to the European Commission’s presence in Belfast as the EU seeks to oversee the implementation of protocol as part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, according to a Louth County councillor.
Cllr Erin McGreehan, a representative on the EU’s Committee of the Regions, says Dundalk is the “ideal alternative location” for such an office, after the British government resisted a request from the European Union to open a new office in Northern Ireland last week.
Reports last week suggested the UK Government saw the EU’s request for an office in Belfast was an infringement of sovereignty after the UK left the European Union back on January 31 this year. Expressing her disappointment towards the British stance on the matter, Cllr McGreehan says there is a local solution. She wrote to Josep Borrell, Vice-President of the European Commission, on the matter, pointing out that Article 12 of the Irish protocol states that EU officials shall have the right to be present during any checks and controls carried out by British authorities.
“Such a presence is vital for the good functioning of the protocol, and therefore to preserve the integrity of the EU Single Market,” the Dundalk-Carlingford councillor said. “Dundalk has a major stake in ensuring that future relations between Ireland and the UK remain smooth and friendly.
She said that an office in Dundalk would “facilitate the work of EU officials tasked with observing the checks and controls. I believe that locating the office in Dundalk will cover the needs of the EU, while avoiding the sensitivities that exist in the UK over this matter.”
It is understood that the EU wrote to the UK requesting permisison to open an office in Belfast before the UK officially left the EU, but their request was refused immediately. A follow-up request, prompting reconsideration, has been sent. Offices in Edinburgh and Cardiff, as well as Belfast have been closed since January 31. Only a delegate office in Lodnon remains.
FLY A FLAG FOR FRONTLINE SERVICES
Councillor Erin McGreehan has called on people in Louth to flag a flag – whatever one they have available – in support of frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“[I] have such pride in our National Flag and that is why I proudly fly it outside my home. The time has never been so right to fly a flag to let all our frontline workers know how much we appreciate them and the work they are doing in the battle against Covid-19,” she said.
“Most of us are asked to sit at home and sit this time out, but thousands of our friends, neighbours and family members are leaving their safe homes to go to work at risk to themselves to ensure our nations safety.”
The Cllr asked that locals fly whatever flag they have available to them outside their homes, be it a a county flag, local GAA, local soccer or school flag. “It’s a small act but it will brighten up our county in a time when there is a lot of heartache and worry,” she said.