Monday 5 December 2016

We'll make soft Border work after Brexit, says top aide

Published 06/10/2016 | 02:30

'The goal is to have something as close to what we have at the moment as possible'
'The goal is to have something as close to what we have at the moment as possible'

The Border arrangement post-Brexit can still closely match what we currently have, a senior civil servant in the Department of the Taoiseach has said.

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John Callinan, the department's second secretary general assigned to deal with the challenges posed by the Brexit vote, said it won't be easy, and the negotiations will be difficult. But he said it is possible.

"The goal is to have something as close to what we have at the moment as possible," Mr Callinan said at Enterprise Ireland's International Markets Week.

"There is, right across the EU, and particularly between Dublin, London and Belfast, recognition that there are very specific circumstances in relation to the North.

"I think there's a commitment there to find a way to make this work, that looks, feels and is as close to what we have at the moment as possible.

"It won't be easy. I think it will be a difficult negotiation but I think it's possible."

His comments came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said full British access to the single market requires accepting the EUs freedom of movement principle.

It is the first time that she has commented publicly since British Prime Minister Theresa May's tough stance at the Conservative Party Conference. Ms Merkel said granting exemptions would "throw into question" the EU system.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Enterprise Ireland event that the European Commission's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, will be in Dublin next week.

Read more: Britain leaving EU is 'catastrophic' for peace in the North, court told

Irish Independent

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