Dublin urges London to give more thought to issues

Posted By: April 21, 2018

Staff Reporter.Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, April 21, 2018

The government in the Republic has urged Britain to give more thought to addressing outstanding Brexit issues after the EU reportedly dismissed the UK plans to resolve the matter.

Foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney said his government’s objectives, including protecting the Good Friday Agreement and avoiding a hard border following Brexit, had remained the same for months.

Yet little agreement has yet been reached on measures to avoid a hard border, including customs checks.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said a key backstop was now part of the overall agreement.

The backstop means Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU rules relating to North-South issues and the all-island economy in the event no deal can be reached between Britain and the EU.

Mr. Coveney said transforming the commitments already given into a legal text was challenging.

“There will be setbacks, and there will be arguments and difficulties, but these negotiations are moving forward and what we see today in the British media is a reflection of the fact that I think there is more thought needed, particularly on the British side in terms of solving some of these issues,” he said.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said the backstop must be implemented if the British government cannot put forward other plans.

“It would allow the north to remain in the customs union and significant elements of the single market and the EU and the Irish government, in particular, must now ensure that is maintained and upheld and that the British government are not allowed to renege on the commitments it has already entered into,” she said.

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry urged the British government to reconsider its approach to the border.

“The most sensible way forward is for the UK as a whole to remain within a customs union with the EU and to allow Northern Ireland to remain within the single market,” he said.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the border issue must be settled within the next ten weeks.

“We now need a cast iron guarantee that there will be no hard border in Ireland. The DUP and the Brexiteers must concede that full alignment with the single market and the customs union is vital for protecting our citizens,” he said.

However, DUP MEP Diane Dodds, left, said the EU did not want to compromise.

“The EU, including Dublin, have a joint responsibility alongside our UK government to identify workable options to bridge gaps,” she said.

“There will be no internal barriers within the United Kingdom,” she said.