Belfast Telegraph

Coveney sets out stall for next round of Brexit talks

By John Mulgrew

The Irish government has said it will seek an agreement on the transitional arrangements for the future of the border after Brexit during the next set of talks.

Tanaiste and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney referred to progress on Brexit talks in the last few months, which saw Prime Minister Theresa May strike a last-minute deal with the EU to move on to phase two of the negotiations.

He said: "We can be proud of what we accomplished in phase one on the negotiations - we achieved the goals we set out, including maintenance of the common travel area, protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process, including guarantees on avoiding a hard border.

"As we move into phase two where we will be consolidating these gains while also seeking agreement on transitional arrangements and the framework for the future EU-UK relationship, we will be reliant on our resourcefulness, vigour and dynamism as well as the solidarity of our partners to achieve the best possible outcome for the island of Ireland, our citizens and our economy."

Figures from Mr Coveney's department show there has been a surge in applications from Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK for Irish passports. He said this was partly, but not solely, due to Brexit.

The number of passport applications received from applicants in Northern Ireland rose to 81,752, up almost 20% compared to 2016, and the number of first-time applicants from Northern Ireland soared by half in 2017.

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