The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and the Vice President of the European Commission Maroš Šefcovic have given a virtual briefing to members of the US Congress on the latest Brexit developments.

The call was with the 'Friends of Ireland' caucus, a bipartisan group on Capitol Hill.

Simon Coveney said the meeting was an opportunity to take stock of recent developments in Northern Ireland, and the UK's unilateral move on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Last week, the UK government announced the extension of the grace period for post-Brexit supermarket agri-food movements from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland. The EU said it was a potential breach of international law and contrary to the good faith provision of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

"The EU and the US have been unwavering partners to the peace process. Throughout the Brexit process the EU has worked hard to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement is protected in all its dimensions and a hard border on the island of Ireland is avoided," Simon Coveney said this evening.

"We have consistently said that we want the protocol to work for Northern Ireland, and for the island as a whole, in as smooth a manner as possible. Sustainable measures on issues around the protocol are only possible with the UK working in cooperation with the EU", he added.

He also thanked the members of the 'Friends of Ireland' caucus for their continued support of the Good Friday Agreement.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the situation last week and said that US President Joe Biden's support for the Good Friday Agreement remained "unequivocal".

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin will meet virtually with President Joe Biden next week for the annual St Patrick's Day celebrations.


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Meanwhile, speaking today in the UK parliament, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis defended Britain's move, repeating that the action was lawful and needed to prevent shortages in supermarkets.

"It was important for stability, for people in Northern Ireland, for the future of the (Northern Ireland) protocol, to not have ourselves in a situation where because of the way things were being implemented, we would have had empty shelves again in potentially just a couple of weeks time," he said.

"These measures...are lawful, they are consistent with the progressive and good-faith implementation of the protocol."