Belfast Telegraph

Coveney calls for enduring relationship with the UK

By Staff Reporter

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has spoken of his determination to ensure that warmer relationships built up between the UK and Ireland endure during the Brexit process.

In a wide ranging speech, Mr Coveney also urged the UK government to consider remaining in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

"I find it difficult to accept that while the options available to the UK are now being discussed, debated and negotiated, that the potential option of staying in a customs union would be taken off the table, before negotiations on trade have even commenced with the EU," he told a gather of the Anglo-Irish Association in Cambridge.

"On this front, I listened carefully to what Micheal Martin had to say this morning - we will take on board those proposals and test them in a non-party partisan way. Any approach or proposal that makes sense for better relations between Ireland and Britain we are open to, on something as fundamental as our future together.

"However, I would respectfully hope that the UK government can also approach some of the big questions they face, on the basis of persuasive argument, tested approaches and facts as they emerge rather than party political positioning. I heard Ken Clarke make this point in the House of Commons this week."

Mr Coveney spoke glowingly during Saturday's speech on the warming friendship between his country and the UK, including the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Dublin in 2011.

"The Queen's visit unlocked something in many of us - it marked a real change in our relationship," he said.

"President Higgins cemented this new maturity to our relationship when he visited the UK on a state visit in 2014. It is more important than ever to find ways to continue to collaborate once the UK leaves the European Union - to avoid a situation where, with the best will in the world, friends that don't meet frequently become acquaintances and gradually drift apart. This is the last thing we want and the Irish government will work to ensure it doesn't happen."

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