Tuesday 19 March 2019

'Irish issues at centre of damage-control process over UK pull-out' - Tusk

European Council president Donald Tusk at UCD. Photo: PA
European Council president Donald Tusk at UCD. Photo: PA
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

European Council president Donald Tusk has said Brexit makes him "furious" and he reiterated the EU's support for Ireland, saying Irish issues will be at the centre of his attention in the "damage-control process".

Meanwhile, during a speech to students in UCD he also spoke of his love of Irish music, culture and sport, adding that he's "even a fan of Conor McGregor", though he said he has "mixed feelings" about the alleged incident in New York.

Mr Tusk was at the university to receive an honorary membership to UCD's Law Society.

He said this year will be dominated by Brexit and what he termed the "damage control process". He said his main focus will be to eliminate or reduce the negative side of Brexit and Irish issues will be at the centre of his attention.

"I don't like Brexit. Actually, that's an understatement: I believe Brexit is one of the saddest moments in 21st-century European history. In fact, sometimes I am even furious about it," he said.

"We have many reasons to be satisfied, as a generation which has united Europe," he added. "But we have as many reasons for concern, as a generation that could still - unfortunately - make it to the gloomy and... spectacular show of another European disunion. Wherever I look, I can see this dangerous potential for conflict."

He raised concerns about politics in his own country, Poland, and the situation in Catalonia among other issues. He said that on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in Ireland people are "looking with concern and anxiety to the future of the peace process after Brexit".

He repeated the words he used when he pledged EU support for Ireland last December saying: "Ní neart go cur le chéile. There is no strength without unity."

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has slapped down suggestions from the UK government that he is dancing to the tune of Sinn Féin in the Brexit negotiations, following comments by Brexit Secretary David Davis at a conference in London.

Irish Independent

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