Wednesday 23 May 2018

Irish Government urges Britain to think again on Brexit problems

Dublin’s objectives have remained the same for months, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney added.

By Michael McHugh, Press Association

The Irish Government has urged Britain to give more thought to resolving outstanding Brexit issues.

Dublin’s objectives have remained the same for months, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney added, and ministers are still firm.

The Irish border is one of the most vexed issues facing EU/UK negotiations in Brussels.

The Irish Government's position has not changed, it is rock solid Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney

Mr Coveney said protecting the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, ensuring cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic works and preventing any physical border infrastructure were commitments already agreed between the sides.

Mr Coveney told Irish broadcaster RTE: “The Irish Government’s position has not changed, it is rock solid.”

Little agreement has yet been reached on the detail of measures to avoid a hard frontier with checks on goods and services.

Unionists have opposed any solution which would create differences between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, and Prime Minister Theresa May is reliant on Democratic Unionist support in key Westminster votes.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said a backstop, meaning Northern Ireland continued to follow EU rules relating to North-South issues and the all-island economy, was now part of the overall agreement between Britain and the EU.

Mr Coveney said transforming the commitments already given into a legal text was challenging and a work in progress.

“There will be setbacks and there will be arguments and difficulties, but these negotiations are moving forward and what we see today in the British media is a reflection of the fact that I think there is more thought needed, particularly on the British side in terms of solving some of these issues.

“Some of the papers that they have published last summer, while they have some interesting things in them, clearly are not going to solve all of the problems that they are committed to solving.”

Mr Varadkar has said it was up to the UK to propose a solution on the Irish border question if it rejected that put forward by European leaders.

Press Association

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