Belfast Telegraph

British proposals on border rejected by deputy Irish PM

Irish deputy PM dismisses reported customs clearance sites as “non starter”

Tanaiste Simon Coveney during the Fine Gael parliamentary meeting at the Garryvoe Hotel in Cork.
Tanaiste Simon Coveney during the Fine Gael parliamentary meeting at the Garryvoe Hotel in Cork.

By Aine McMahon PA

Reported plans by the British Government to create customs posts along both sides of the Irish border to replace the backstop, have been dismissed by Simon Coveney.

Irish State broadcaster RTE reported the suggestion sent to the European Union by the UK would lead to the posts being built between five and 10 miles back from the current border.

The idea for the customs posts are contained in the so-called ‘non-papers’ submitted by UK officials during recent technical discussions.

The deputy Irish premier poured cold water on the plans, saying Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland “deserves better.”

He tweeted: “Non-Paper = Non-Starter. Time the EU had a serious proposal from the UK Govt if a #Brexit deal is to be achievable in October. NI and IRE deserves better!”

Shadow secretary of state for Brexit, Keir Starmer tweeted: “If Boris Johnson had spent any time listening to businesses and communities in Northern Ireland, he would know that these proposals are utterly unworkable.”

Opposition political parties also criticised the reported plans.

Lisa Chambers, the Fianna Fail Brexit spokeswoman tweeted: “This is effectively a border with a buffer zone and is clearly not a satisfactory alternative to the #backstop With 30 days now to go until #Brexit we need to see sensible workable solutions that ensure no hard border on the island of Ireland. What about regulations on goods?”

“For all the U.K. governments talk that they wouldn’t erect a border on the island of Ireland, here they are proposing a border as a solution to their #Brexit paralysis,” she tweeted.

The British proposal to reimpose a hard border on our island...is out of the question Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald tweeted: “The British proposal to reimpose a hard border on our island, as reported by @tconnellyRTE, is out of the question. It is further evidence of Tory recklessness and belligerence towards Ireland.”

Irish Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin also dismissed the plans.

He tweeted: “Leaked proposals from the UK on alternatives to the backstop are completely unacceptable. The UK is well aware that a mass of new border checks, wherever sited, breach the agreement reached with the May government to avoid regulatory barriers to trade.”

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said the reported proposals fall short of fulfilling the objective of the backstop.

“The content of these proposals fails to meet the British Government’s obligations under the December 2017 joint report to avoid physical infrastructure, checks and controls at the border. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mile, five miles or ten miles away, the presence of physical checks will create economic and security challenges that are unacceptable,” he said.

Separately, the Irish Farmer’s Association President Joe Healy said the reported proposal by the UK to install custom clearance centres’ at both sides of the border is not a credible alternative to the backstop.

“These customs clearance centres’ are border posts under a different name. The purpose of the backstop is to act as a fallback in the event that a future trade deal cannot address the NI Border issue to the UK and EU’s satisfaction. This latest proposal is an attempt to put lipstick on a pig. A customs post is a customs post, no matter what is called or where it’s located,” he said.

PA

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