Boris Johnson holds Brexit talks with Irish counterpart Micheal Martin at Chequers

Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin discussed post-Brexit trade and the Ballymurphy massacre during a meeting at Chequers, No 10 said.

The two leaders had a working lunch at the PM’s country retreat amid ongoing problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol set up in December’s agreement with the EU.

Anger in unionist communities over the protocol has been building since the start of the year as it impacted on imports of food and other goods.

Last month violence spilled out across the region, particularly in Belfast, with people from both unionist and nationalist backgrounds taking part in riots.

Mr Johnson is also facing nationalist anger over the 1971 Ballymurphy massacre, in which 10 innocent civilians were killed by British Army soldiers. 

A Downing Street spokeswoman today said: ‘The leaders reflected on the Coroner’s report into the Ballymurphy massacre published this week. They agreed it was profoundly sad that the families of victims had to wait so long for the truth.

‘The Prime Minister restated the UK Government’s commitment to finding a way forward in Northern Ireland that delivers for victims, aids truth recovery and helps communities in the future.

‘They agreed on the importance of working together to uphold the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and to maintain smooth trade between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

‘The leaders resolved to continue to work together in our fight against coronavirus and to closely share information in order to enable a better recovery.’

The two leaders had a working lunch at the PM's country retreat amid ongoing problems with the Northern Ireland Porotcol set up in December's agreement with the EU.

The two leaders had a working lunch at the PM's country retreat amid ongoing problems with the Northern Ireland Porotcol set up in December's agreement with the EU.

The two leaders had a working lunch at the PM’s country retreat amid ongoing problems with the Northern Ireland Porotcol set up in December’s agreement with the EU.

A Downing Street spokeswoman today said: 'The leaders reflected on the Coroner's report into the Ballymurphy massacre published this week. They agreed it was profoundly sad that the families of victims had to wait so long for the truth.

A Downing Street spokeswoman today said: 'The leaders reflected on the Coroner's report into the Ballymurphy massacre published this week. They agreed it was profoundly sad that the families of victims had to wait so long for the truth.

A Downing Street spokeswoman today said: ‘The leaders reflected on the Coroner’s report into the Ballymurphy massacre published this week. They agreed it was profoundly sad that the families of victims had to wait so long for the truth.

There has been additional anger in Northern Ireland over the PSNI’s handling of Covid-19 breaches at a Republican funeral.

Suspected paramilitary involvement in the riots was attributed to the South East Antrim UDA, reacting to recent police operations targeting its criminal empire.

There is also uncertainty over the future of Stormont, with a leadership contest under way in the Democratic Unionist Party.

Both candidates, Edwin Poots and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, have pledged to ramp up opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol, even if it risks collapsing Stormont.

A leadership contest is also under way in the Ulster Unionist Party after Steve Aiken offered his resignation last week.

Meanwhile, families of the victims of the Ballymurphy massacre have dubbed a letter of apology from Boris Johnson ‘unacceptable’.

The Ballymurphy families received a letter from the Prime Minister on Thursday in which he expressed his personal sorrow for the ‘terrible hurt that has been caused’ by the deaths of 10 innocent civilians 50 years ago.

On Tuesday, coroner Mrs Justice Keegan found that those who died in Belfast in August 1971 were ‘entirely innocent’.

She found that nine of the 10 had been killed by soldiers and that the use of lethal force was not justified.

However, the Ballymurphy families, who had gathered for a press conference in Belfast, were left angered by the timing and the content of the letter.

Their solicitor, Padraig O Muirigh, broke down as he read out Mr Johnson’s letter, saying he had been left upset by the ‘disgraceful conduct’ of the Prime Minister.

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