Belfast Telegraph

Back up border commitment with concrete proposals, says Coveney

Simon Coveney said the UK must now provide the solution to how a hard border could be avoided.

Theresa May’s commitment to no hard border on the island of Ireland must now be backed up by concrete proposals, the Irish deputy premier has said.

Simon Coveney said that while he welcomed the Prime Minister’s vow not to allow Brexit to jeopardise the Northern Ireland peace process, the UK must now provide the solution to how a hard border could be avoided and the Good Friday Agreement protected.

Addressing Mrs May’s speech on Friday, Mr Coveney said: “We welcome the Prime Minister’s reiteration of the UK’s steadfast commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and to the commitments made in the agreement reached last December, including on avoiding a hard border.

“These commitments now need to be translated into concrete proposals on how a hard border can be avoided and the Good Friday Agreement and North-South co-operation protected.”

He added: “Our shared hope is that the future EU-UK relationship can achieve these goals.

“However, we, together with the Commission, are also committed to exploring other specific solutions, if proposed by the UK.”

Mr Coveney said if no solution was reached, the fall-back mechanism, as agreed in December, would entail, if necessary, “full alignment in Northern Ireland with those rules of the single market and customs union necessary to protect North-South co-operation, the all-island economy and the Good Friday Agreement, and to avoid a hard border.”

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald accused Mrs May of failing “to grasp the hard truths and realities” of Brexit.

“The hard truth is that Brexit is incompatible with the wishes of the people of the north, acts against our economy and undermines our agreements.

“The British Government knows this and that is why they have failed to bring forward any workable solutions or new thinking,” she said.

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