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A senior Irish government official said the Commission completely overlooked the political sensitivities while focusing on the vaccine issue.

"Brussels seems to have been looking at the big global picture and took its eye off of the Protocol," the senior official said. "We note that the original announcement of an export ban outside the EU did not even mention Ireland or the border. It's quite the oversight, if indeed that's what it was."

The fear in Ireland is that even with the reversal, the Commission's move could inspire a big push by Northern Ireland unionists to get various problems with the Irish Sea customs border canceled, by having the U.K. trigger the same Article 16.

That would potentially force both sides into new negotiations when the Brexit trade deal has not even been ratified.

"It's the last thing we would have expected," the senior Irish official said. "We are hoping the damage from this confusion can be quickly contained, and that communication improves."

by Bernard on Sat Jan 30th, 2021 at 03:11:07 PM EST

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