EU has 'taken our concerns to heart' during exit talks
Our EU partners have "taken Ireland's concerns to heart" all through the marathon Brexit negotiations which are now close to conclusion, European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee has said.
Opening a debate on the draft EU-UK Brexit deal in Seanad Éireann, Ms McEntee said the draft deal allowed a transition period up to at least December 2020. This timeframe, which can be extended, would allow London and Brussels to work out a new, long-term relationship on trade and other issues.
The minister said she was optimistic about the long-term relationship. "We hope it will be as deep, strong and comprehensive as possible," she said.
She paid tribute to the other EU governments and institutions, adding: "They took Ireland's concerns to heart and made them European concerns and priorities."
Ms McEntee said that UK Prime Minister Theresa May had three times stood over her commitment first made in December last year on the Irish Border backstop.
She said Dáil Éireann's endorsement of the draft deal on Wednesday night was an important signal ahead of Sunday's special EU leaders' summit that is set to endorse it.