Belfast Telegraph

Coveney: Ireland does not want to hold up Brexit negotiations

By Harriet Line

There is "no desire" in Ireland to delay progress on the Brexit negotiations, according to the Tanaiste.

Simon Coveney said his government did not want to veto the talks, after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned he was prepared to stand firm on the Irish border issue.

Mr Coveney told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show that Ireland wants a solution on the border that "involves all of the United Kingdom acting as one".

Asked whether the Irish government was prepared to use a "veto" over the Brexit talks, he said: "We certainly don't want to be vetoing anything - I mean the Irish government, just like the British government, wants to be able to move the Brexit process on to phase two and we want to be able to provide the kind of certainty that many businesses are calling for in Britain and Ireland and indeed in other parts of the European Union.

"So there is no desire, I can tell you, in Ireland to delay this process, but at the same time we have a responsibility as a government to represent the interests on the island of Ireland -north and south - and let's not forget that next year will be the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement which is the basis for the peace process and relations between Britain and Ireland on the island of Ireland.

"And we believe that as an island, Ireland is uniquely vulnerable and exposed to a potential bad outcome from Brexit and that is why we are looking for more progress than we have in terms of understanding how the border issues in particular on the island of Ireland, and the north and south cooperation that has created a normality on the island of Ireland which is a hugely positive thing."

The leaders of the remaining 27 EU states, including Irish premier Mr Varadkar, have a veto on triggering the second phase of talks, meaning Prime Minister Theresa May must be sure of support from Dublin for progress to be made.

European Council President Donald Tusk has said the Irish would be consulted on whether the UK's offer was sufficient.

Mr Coveney said Ireland was not looking for the "full detail" on the border solution in phase one of the talks. He told the Andrew Marr show yesterday: "What we are looking for though is the parameters within which we can be more confident that a solution can be found within phase two - and that is not an unreasonable ask.

"We would like to see a solution here that solves the border issues, that involves all of the United Kingdom acting as one."

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