Brexit talks will be “most important in Republic’s history”

Posted By: June 17, 2017

Claire Simpson. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Republic’s new foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney. Picture by Brian Lawless, Press Association
BREXIT talks between the UK and the European Union will be “one of the most important set of negotiations in the recent history of our country”, the Republic’s new foreign affairs minister has said.

Cork TD Simon Coveney welcomed Thursday’s announcement that the Brexit negotiations are to begin on Monday.

Speaking after he met the DUP and Sinn Féin in Dublin yesterday to discuss the deadlock at Stormont, Mr Coveney said Monday’s talks “will be the start of a long and difficult road”.

“It is vital that in these opening discussions a positive tone is struck and that momentum is created so that progress can be made as quickly as possible on the many complex issues facing the negotiators,” he said.

He said if a Brexit agreement is not reached by the March 2019 deadline, it would be “damaging for all concerned and certainly disastrous for Ireland”.

Mr Coveney said the Republic would negotiate “from a position of strength” as one of the 27 EU states.

“The EU has set out its position clearly and in this position there is a strong acknowledgment of Ireland’s unique concerns and priorities, including on protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process, avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and maintaining the Common Travel Area,” he said.

He said progress must be made on key issues, including citizens’ rights and the UK’s divorce bill, during the first phase of negotiations so that an agreement on a trade deal between the UK and EU can be reached.