Belfast Telegraph

Government clarifies Brexit position after unionist concerns

The Government has moved to alleviate unionist concerns over its position on Brexit.

On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said that Dublin will be pushing for a special deal - "unique status" - for Northern Ireland to ensure the border remains as close as possible to the current arrangement.

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann hit out at Mr Coveney's comments, describing them as a "thinly veiled attempt to break up the Union".

However, on Friday Mr Coveney said he has spoken to political parties at Stormont to clarify the Government's position.

He said some people had taken "political advantage" of his remarks about a "special" or "unique" status for the region.

"What I was talking about (on Thursday) was what Michel Barnier (the EU's chief Brexit negotiator) was talking about, which was the need for a unique solution in the context of Brexit for Northern Ireland for all sorts of reasons that I think people will understand," he said.

Mr Coveney added: " Others have been campaigning on the basis of using different terminology and so when similar terminology was used by me some people took political advantage of that.

"I think we have provided clarity today."

The minister insisted that a "unique and special solution" needs to be figured out.

"If part of the island of Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and leaves (the EU) with Brexit then there are all sorts of consequences of that in terms of movement and trade and the normalisation of border activity on both sides of that border.

"We need to find a way of trying to maintain the status quo as best we can in the context of that very significant change.

"I will of course talk to and liaise with all parties in Northern Ireland, the Republic and London to explain our position and why it is important and hopefully find a solution everyone can live with," he said.

From Belfast Telegraph