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No secret plans for Irish border: Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)
Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)

Simon Coveney has said the Irish government has no "secret plan" for the Irish border.

The Irish Foreign Affairs minister, writing in the Irish Times, said his government is not planning for the reintroduction of a border on the island of Ireland even if the UK leaves the European Union without agreeing a deal.

Mr Coveney said: "We have a way to avoid a border in the deal. It has been the result of a painstaking negotiation, framed by UK red lines, which led to compromises on both sides, and which resulted in a withdrawal agreement endorsed by 27 European Union nations and the British cabinet.

"That withdrawal agreement is the only deal on offer."

Mr Coveney's comments come after Margaritis Schinas, the chief spokesman for the EU Commission, claimed it was "pretty obvious" there would be a hard border in Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Coveney, addressing Mr Schinas comments, said: "We have heard commentary from some quarters that the EU would not stand by Ireland in reaching a deal with the UK. These predictions have been proven to be false.

"The Confederation of British Industry in Northern Ireland has warned that the cost of a no-deal Brexit will be more than €5 billion a year

"Similar prophecies of doom are now being bandied about on the basis of one answer from a spokesman who, by his own admission, was speculating. EU clarifications yesterday attracted less coverage."

Mr Coveney said the UK government has responsibilities to Northern Ireland and peace on the island of Ireland.

He added: "First and foremost among those responsibilities is the need to prevent the re-emergence of a hard border on this island.

"To do this without a deal will not be easy."

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