There are fresh fears of violence erupting in Northern Ireland amid heightened political tensions between London and Belfast.
British frustration with the EU’s refusal to move on the Northern Ireland Protocol led to a ‘solo run’ on Wednesday, which blindsided the Irish Government.
To palpable anger in Dublin, the UK government said it would unilaterally extend the three-month grace period which exempts British suppliers from providing certain paperwork when shipping food to Northern Ireland supermarkets.
The widening gulf between Dublin and London comes as loyalist paramilitary groups withdrew their support for the Good Friday Agreement.
The Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) umbrella group wrote to British prime minister Boris Johnson telling him the main loyalist paramilitary groups were withdrawing support for the Belfast Agreement. The British government's move has been blasted by Taoiseach Micheál Martin whose office said he was not told about the decision during a phone conversation with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson 24 hours before it happened.
Foreign minister Simon Coveney said the UK government “could not be trusted”.
The North's First Minister, Arlene Foster, accused Mr Coveney of ignoring the views of unionists and assuming they will go away.
She urged Mr Coveney to reflect on remarks as she defended London’s move, insisting that Brussels was not listening to the concerns of people in Northern Ireland. British sources have contested EU suggestions that the sides were really close to a deal, and that the UK merely walked away from that “does not correspond” with their experience.
“We didn't at all sense that we were close to a deal,” one source said.