Coveney: It's not our job to manage Britain's side of Brexit negotiations

A deal seemed in sight on the border issue, but was struck down by the DUP

Coveney: It's not our job to manage Britain's side of Brexit negotiations

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, as they made a statement on Phase I of the Brexit negotiations in Government Buildings, Dublin | Image: Leah Farrell /

The Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney says the Government is staying focused on getting the best deal for Ireland after Brexit.

There was an agreement with the British government on the border issue on Monday morning, but it was pulled around lunchtime.

The British Prime Minister Theresa May asked for more time after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said they would not support anything which saw the North being treated differently to the rest of the UK.

Mrs May is expected to speak with Mrs Foster by phone on Tuesday.

She will travel back to Brussels later this week for more talks with EU officials after failing to secure a deal.

On Monday Mrs May said she had a "constructive meeting" with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and that "a lot of progress has been made".

But she added: "On a couple of issues some differences do remain which require further negotiation and consultation and those will continue.

"We will reconvene before the end of the week and I am also confident that we will conclude this positively."

Taoisech Leo Varadkar said there was "still time" to reach an agreement before the EU Council summit on December 14th.

If not, Mrs May risks a crisis, with many companies believed to be preparing their own contingency plans - moving staff and work out of the UK - if there is no progress by Christmas.

EU officials want a text of the deal by the end of this week so it can be included in summit conclusions and so European leaders can consult their own governments.

Mr Coveney says it is now up to Mrs May to negotiate with the DUP leader Arlene Foster.

"It's a matter for the British government to manage their side in the negotiations - it certainly isn't our job to manage that or to comment on it.

"That's why we have focused on getting Cabinet approval for a wording that we believed could get the job done - and also briefing opposition leaders to make sure that we could create a political environment in Ireland - on a very, very sensitive issue - that could allow us credibly protect Irish interests."

"I believe we got a wording that achieved that and so we want to ensure that that wording remains intact so that whatever happens we move on to phase two - if we move on to phase two - with the assurance that there is not going to be, under any circumstances, a hard border re-emerging on the island.

"And I think we have an obligation to ensure that that's the case".

Reporting by: Nicole Gernon, Jack Quann and IRN