US Congressman Richard Neal has said politicians in Northern Ireland must carry out their democratic duty through the power-sharing institutions.

Following a meeting with Northern Ireland Office Minster Conor Burns in Washington, Mr Neal said he reiterated the need to focus on getting a new Executive up and running.

He said: "All parties must stay the course to find durable solutions to implement the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and preserve peace and stability on the island."

Mr Neal is Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee of the US House of Representatives – which has oversight of US trade agreements.

He is also co-chair of the Congressional Friends of Ireland group.

Earlier Mr Burns, who has recently been designated as Prime Minister Boris Johnson's special envoy on Northern Ireland to the United States, said the British government was not seeking to rip up the Northern Ireland Protocol, but wanted to see substantial changes to it.

"We've got to try and find a way where we can have a difference between the checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Britain that are destined to stay in Northern Ireland for sale and consumption in North, and those goods that are coming through Northern Ireland and going onwards into the Republic of Ireland and therefore it to the European single market," he said.

Asked if Britain intended to introduce legislation that that would do away with parts of the protocol, or activate the Article 16 "emergency brake", Mr Burns said "we want to be able to negotiate a solution with the EU."


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Asked if Britain intended to introduce legislation that that would do away with parts of the Protocol, or activate the Article 16 "emergency brake", Mr Burns said "we want to be able to negotiate a solution with the EU."

"[European Commission] Vice President Šefčovič is telling us he is at the limit of his mandate, so we are asking the Europeans to look at the possibility of broadening his mandate to see if we can find a landing zone for a negotiated solution.

"If it comes to the point where that is going to be impossible, then clearly we will have to take decisions and actions to protect the peace agreement and the power sharing institutions of the Good Friday agreement".

Asked about Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney's statement that he does not know if the British government is interested in working in partnership to resolve the difficulties in Northern Ireland, Mr Burns added: "We're co-guarantors of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement as amended at St Andrews with the Irish Government.

"We both have a stake in seeing a stable, prosperous Northern Ireland on the island of Ireland.

"We are absolutely committed to working with partners, including our friends and allies here in the United States, to deliver for Northern Ireland, to deliver the stable power-sharing government envisaged in those agreements that have served Northern Ireland so well over the last 24 years, and make sure that the prize - of being able to celebrate Northern Ireland attracting jobs, prosperity, widening opportunity, are in place – so that together we can all celebrate the 25th anniversary of creating an entirely different society."