Bertie Ahern urged to apologise over "demeaning" Northern Ireland protocol remarks
The former Taoiseach said that loyalists in "ghettos" in Belfast "haven't got a clue" about how the Northern Ireland protocol works.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been urged to apologise after saying that people in "ghettos" in east Belfast "haven't got a clue" about the Northern Ireland protocol.
Ahern was speaking during an event hosted by the Brexit Institute of Dublin City University on Thursday.
"I spend a lot of my life still in the north," Ahern reportedly said.
"The reality is in east Belfast and in the ghettos and in the areas where you're likely to get trouble, is that people haven't got a clue about the protocol, not a clue.
"They see it as identity. They see it as a road to the Dublin Government taking over again and this is a pathway to that.
"That's how they see it. Even those who you might consider to be a bit more intelligent and articulate. That is the difficulty."
Democratic Unionist Party MP for East Belfast Gavin Robinson has called on Ahern to clarify his "demeaning and degrading" remarks and to offer an apology.
“To associate East Belfast with a ghetto and suggest loyalists are not able to understand the Protocol is demeaning and degrading," said Robinson.
"People in my constituency who can’t get their Amazon parcels from another part of the United Kingdom well understand the impact of the Protocol.
"Rather than belittling those who oppose the Protocol, Bertie Ahern should seek to understand why not a single elected unionist in Northern Ireland supports the Protocol," Robinson continued.
"As a man who was central to the Belfast Agreement being negotiated, Bertie should be honest in recognising that the Protocol does alter Northern Ireland’s status within the United Kingdom single market without any consent from people living here. Driving a coach and horses through the Belfast Agreement."
Robinson's DUP colleague Diane Dodds noted that the "snide comments" were "despicable".
The Northern Ireland protocol remains a major subject of debate between the European Union and the UK, with representatives for both sides due to meet on Friday to discuss what progress has been made.
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