Belfast Telegraph

EU felt 'sense of loss' after signing of draft deal

By Aoife Moore

One of the Republic's chief negotiators has said after the EU accepted the Brexit draft proposals, there was a collective sense of melancholy in Brussels.

Rory Montgomery, second secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs' European Union division, said the mood in the room last week was one of loss.

"It was a very strange occasion," he said. "I've been involved in a lot of negotiations over the years at EU level; it's normal at a minimum, at the end of a negotiation, to have a sense of relief, or a sense of contentment, or even elation in some cases. For instance, it took me five days to come down from the Good Friday Agreement.

"There was no such sense in Brussels five days ago; it was melancholy, it was a sense of loss. Nobody was pleased or happy about this, and [it] was compounded by the huge uncertainty of where the politics of this is going."

Mr Montgomery was speaking yesterday at an event for Irish local authority representatives on how to prepare for the UK leaving the EU.

The one-time adviser to former Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Brexit has already had a negative effect on Northern Ireland and an "extraordinary destabilising impact on community relations and political structures".

"The backstop of course would not be our first choice, but we, the EU, we're extremely open to any negotiation of an alternative which would make it unnecessary, where the future relationship could solve these problems, and that would be everybody's preference," he said.

"Across the board, it's bad news, with a few bright spots."

Belfast Telegraph

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