Coveney tells Fermoy meeting no-one wants a 'No deal' Brexit
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cork TD Simon Coveney, has reiterated that the Irish government would not be weakening on commitments made by both the UK and the EU in relation to the controversial issue of Brexit.
Minister Coveney made the commitment during a public meeting held in Fermoy last Monday evening, during which he addressed a large crowd on Brexit and the potential repercussions it may have for Ireland.
In his address, Mr Coveney outlined the Brexit negotiation process to date and offered his views on the likely outcomes are when Britain leaves the European Union next March.
On a positive note he said that three of the four mains areas of agreement, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice-versa, the financial settlement to be made when the UK leaves the EU and the transition agreement for after Britain leaves, had been mostly settled. However, he said the fourth issue, that of Ireland, would be the focus of "intense negotiations" over the coming two months.
"While the Irish government will not be weakening on UK and EU commitments, the next eight-weeks are likely to see a level of brinkmanship that will not be easy," he warned.
Minister Coveney said that while the eventual result of Brexit negotiations were far from clear, it was his opinion that a 'No deal' Brexit was unlikely as no-body wanted that.
He said that politicians on both sides of the negotiations were more likely to push back the Brexit time-line, rather than risk a 'No deal' situation.
Following his address, Minister Coveney fielded questions from the audience covering a broad range of topics of interest to Ireland. These included the position on Northern Ireland, the impact of Brexit on the beef and equine industries, how it might affect Irish students studying in the UK and the role of the European Court of Justice during the transition period.
Local Fine Gael general election candidate, Pa O'Driscoll, who organised the event, said that Minister Coveney gave an insightful and interesting account on the Brexit negotiations and "provided clarity on a number of important issues."
"It was patently clear from those who attended the meeting that there is concern over how Brexit will impact on the country, our economy and our society," said Mr O'Driscoll.
"There is a consensus across all political persuasions that the Irish government needs to maintain a strong line with the UK government and our EU partners to prevent an outcome that is destructive to north-south trade and trade across the Irish Sea," he added.