The High Court of Belfast has rejected a lawsuit against the Northern Ireland Protocol as part of Britain’s exit from the European Union agreement with the European Union. Judge Adrian Colton yesterday dismissed all of the plaintiffs’ arguments. The pro-British unionists are a thorn in the side of the protocol’s customs regimes because they are in effect creating a maritime border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
In their application, they argued, the checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain violated the 1800 Treaty of Union that united the Kingdoms of Ireland and Britain. The Northern Ireland Protocol also contradicts the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. By agreement, the bloody conflict in Northern Ireland was overcome.
In the Brexit negotiations with the European Union, the Northern Ireland Protocol was explicitly put in place to protect the Good Friday Agreement. The aim is to ensure that after Great Britain leaves the European Union, there will be no customs controls imposed between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. Because, according to both sides, it could lead to renewed conflict in Northern Ireland. Instead, it must be controlled between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
A setback for unionists
Judge Colton has now ruled that these customs controls do not violate the Good Friday Agreement. In addition, the Northern Ireland Protocol conflicts with the Treaty of Union of 1800, but the Brexit Treaty partially suspended this treaty.
This ruling represents a serious setback for the pro-British unionists who fear the protocol will pave the way for the reunification of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland. You can still appeal the decision. The case could end in the UK Supreme Court.