They finally get it! Ireland could quit bloc as EU disrespect now clear – ex-diplomat

EU vaccine rollout is a ‘mismanaged mess’ says Adler

And Ray Bassett said the entire episode merely emphasised how expendable Ireland was in the eyes of eurocrats in Brussels were concerned. On Friday, the European Commission, led by President von der Leyen, announced it was triggering clauses in the Northern Irish Protocol to prevent COVID-19 vaccines from moving across the open border from Ireland to Northern Ireland.

Hours later, after vehement protests from London, Belfast and Dublin, the EU issued a statement pledging the Protocol, designed to keep the border open, would not, after all, be affected.

However, should vaccines and active substances move toward third countries and out of the bloc, it would use “all the instruments at its disposal”, it warned.

Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told “The Irish establishment is in shock by the whole episode.”

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The image of the EU, and in particular Ursula von der Leyen, has taken a very bad knock in Ireland

Ray Bassett

Taoiseach Micheal Martin, in particular, had appeared to be “completely deflated” by the developments, seeming “very downbeat” in conversation with the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday, Mr Bassett said.

He added: “Irish political figures are showing understanding in public but in private they are deeply troubled by the Commission’s actions.

“The image of the EU, and in particular Ursula von der Leyen, has taken a very bad knock in Ireland.”

EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness had faced stiff questioning on RTE radio, also on Sunday, over whether Mrs von der Leyen should resign as a result of the fiasco, as well as her perceived mishandling of the overall vaccination procurement process, Mr Bassett pointed out.

He said: “There was none of the usual deference to the EU on display. Attitudes may be changing.

“The bizarre attempt by Brussels to tear up the NI Protocol demonstrated that Ireland does not count in its deliberations.

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“The country was useful during the Brexit discussions but with Brexit completed, there is no further need to placate or even consider Dublin.”

The fact Mrs Von der Leyen’s cabinet had opted to issue a public statement without consulting the two signatories of the Good Friday Agreement, Ireland and the UK, demonstrated a “breath-taking arrogance”, he said, adding: “It was doubly insulting to Ireland as a full member of the European Union.

Furthermore, it was “impossible” to imagine Germany or France being treated in such a manner, he claimed.

Mr Bassett, a frequent critic of the EU suggested Ireland too may be heading for the exit.

Speaking of Friday’s surprise move, he said: “It follows on from Ireland’s poor deal in the Covid recovery fund and the shock of the EU’s treatment of the Irish fishing industry.

“The post-Brexit EU is proving to be a cold house for Ireland.

The author of Ireland and the EU Post Brexit added that Irexit was becoming an increasing possibility.

He explained: “One of the side effects of the Commission’s reckless move was to bring Dublin and London closer together in their distaste for what Brussels had done.

“There is a growing realisation in the Republic of Ireland that its interests are often closer to London than Brussels.“

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