Tuesday 11 December 2018

Government urged to 'engage with DUP' in efforts to save emerging Brexit border deal

Simon Coveney Photo: Tom Burke
Simon Coveney Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

The Government has been urged to talk with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in efforts to have them lift a potential veto on any new Irish border compromise on Brexit.

Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary said reports from Brussels indicated progress on EU-UK talks seeking to broker a new compromise which would avoid a “hard border” after Brexit happens. The issue comes to a head at an EU leaders’ summit next week.

But he pointed to threats from the DUP that they will stop propping up British Prime Minister Theresa May’s minority UK government. The DUP threats include a potential veto on the entire UK Budget due to their objections in principle to the North being treated differently to England, Scotland or Wales after Brexit happens and transition periods end.

“Are you meeting with the DUP to discuss their concerns? Is the DUP aware of the Irish Government’s position on this?” Mr Calleary asked Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney, in the Dáil.

The latest compromises aim to minimise checks on goods traded between the North and England, Scotland and Wales. These include keeping the same product standards for the UK and the rest of the EU, and a system of high-technology checks which minimise any disruption.

Mr Coveney said that the Dublin Government had various methods of staying in contact with the DUP in a very regular way.  But he added that the DUP were not the only party operating in the North, did not represent the majority of the population there, and contacts with Dublin also involved all parties in the North.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said that up to 85pc of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement was now complete. The last phases – including the Irish border – were now at a very delicate stage but nearing completion.

“I think we need to give the negotiators the time and space to do that,” Mr Coveney said.

The Minister said that Ireland would get a full progress report at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Monday and he would meet EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, on Tuesday ahead of a crucial EU leaders’ summit, which starts next Wednesday evening.

Read more here: Barnier issues Ireland border warning over agricultural goods after Brexit

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