Belfast Telegraph

Informal EU talks on Northern Ireland becoming 'special case' in scramble to prevent hard border in no-deal Brexit

Tanaiste Simon Coveney (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
Tanaiste Simon Coveney (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

By Kevin Doyle and John Downing

Ireland is fighting a rear-guard action to ensure there is no return to a hard border in the event of a disorderly Brexit.

Informal “conversations” have taken place between Irish officials and the EU Commission over how to turn Northern Ireland into a special case.

Both the EU and Ireland believe the main responsibility for preventing checks on goods travelling between the Republic and Northern Ireland lies with the UK Government.

However, behind the closed doors at this week’s EU summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted there is now a serious risk of a no-deal outcome. And she called on the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to explore “a fall-back plan” to uphold the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking publicly, Mrs Merkel said EU leaders were “trying to avoid” a new border on the island of Ireland.

At the end of fraught two-day summit, one EU official was quoted as saying it was the "first time leaders tried to crystallise what a no-deal means".

Tanaiste Simon Coveney on Friday night confirmed for the first time that there had been "conversations" around how to prevent a border if the UK crashes out on April 12.

However, he denied there had been "formal discussion or negotiation as to how it would work".

Irish Independent

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