Monday 17 December 2018

Tánaiste: 'Ireland must hold its nerve in Brexit talks'

Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

IRELAND will have to "hold its nerve" as Brexit talks continue over the summer, Tánaiste Simon Coveny has warned.

His remarks come as the European leaders in Brussels are set to raise concern over the lack of progress on a 'backstop' solution for the post-Brexit Irish border in the absence of an overall withdrawal agreement with the UK.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty raised the Brexit talks during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil.

Hesaid the ongoing European Council meeting had been heralded as "massively important" for Brexit but that this is no longer the case as a result of "prevarication" by the British government.

He argued that the current British position would "impose a hard border on our island."

He said the British strategy is to "run down the clock" and claimed "we're playing right into the hands of the British government".

He said the EU statement of concern will be "meaningless" if a "blind eye" is turned to the British position in the talks.

Mr Doherty said the backstop is Ireland's "insurance policy" but it will require the Irish government to "step up to the mark" to ensure there is a resolution to Irish issues before the October European Council meeting.

He said there should be a special EU summit in September and that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar should call for one. He said this would avoid Irish issues being included in the "melting pot" of what is due to be discussed in October, including Britain's future trade arrangements with the EU.

Mr Coveney said that "Ireland needs to hold its nerve" in negotiations over the summer to ensure Irish interests are protected and added "that is what we will do I can assure you".

He said the government is "frustrated and disappointed" that the British government have not yet delivered on the backstop commitments made in December and March as well as in speeches by prime minister Theresa May.

Mr Coveney said the challenge over the summer will be to intensify efforts to secure a legal text that will deliver on the "cast-iron" commitments made by the British government.

He said it still remains the case that the British government is "negotiating with itself" and he echoed the words of EU negotiator Michel Barnier that there won't be a withdrawl treaty without a legal text on the backstop.

Online Editors

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