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'Brexit process must be outlined' - Coveney


Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has conceded he is unsure what short-term progress can be made on Brexit, but said it is vital to see a "process taking shape" before the end of a European Council meeting next month.

Mr Coveney said he believed UK Prime Minister Theresa May would follow through on her commitment to honour the Good Friday Agreement and ensure there was no hard Border with the North once Brexit negotiations have concluded.

He said Ireland was led by Britain on Brexit because it was the UK's decision to leave the EU. However, he added there was a commitment on both sides to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the North post-Brexit.

He said there would be no withdrawal treaty between the EU and the UK unless commitments preventing a hard Border were met.

However, the Tánaiste conceded he was unsure what progress could be made in the short-term and his immediate target was to "see that process taking shape" to outline how the UK would follow through on a commitment there would be no hard Border.

Mrs May is under pressure from the EU to present the UK's preferred solution to future customs arrangements at an EU council meeting on Brexit next month.

Mr Coveney said he was confident the prime minister would follow through on a promise to prevent border controls.

"We have a commitment that is cast iron from the British government that there will be no border infrastructure of any kind and no checks or controls.

"What we don't have from them is a plan to deliver on that. The EU has a plan to deliver on that through its backstop.

"The British government said it couldn't agree to that wording. This is a negotiation so let's wait and see what that (new) wording is," he said.

Mr Coveney said he wanted people to make a distinction between commitments guaranteeing there would not be a hard Border and the process by which they would be delivered.

He added these commitments did not need to be honoured by the end of a crucial EU Council meeting next month, but there needed to be an understanding of how promises could be met.

"It doesn't need to be perfect or concluded by the end of June, but we certainly need to see it taking shape so we can believe we can have it finalised by the end of October," Mr Coveney said.

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