Michael Staines
Michael Staines

12.31 10 Sep 2019


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The Tánaiste has said the Northern Ireland-specific backstop could be the answer the current Brexit deadlock.

The measure, originally agreed in late 2017, would see a joint UK/EU customs territory established in Northern Ireland.

It was shelved after the DUP said it would pull the plug on the British Government if it went through.

That led to Downing Street’s request for the backstop to be amended to include the entire UK.

Backstop

Speaking today, Simon Coveney said any deal must include legally binding solutions to the border issue that provide the same level of protection as the backstop.

“We have a Withdrawal Agreement today that responds to all of that complexity in a very comprehensive way and if the UK Government wants to change that, then they have to provide comprehensive answers in terms of the alternative arrangements they are proposing to the backstop,” he said.

“Otherwise, we need to see a backstop; either-UK wide or Northern Ireland-specific.

“Either, from our perspective, can represent a way forward.”

December agreement

On the Pat Kenny Show this morning, the Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee said the Northern Ireland-specific approach could work.

“Essentially you are reverting back to something that was already agreed to,” she said.

“So it is very different to changing, amending or, as they have been asking us to recently, completely removing the backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement.”

DUP

Speaking this afternoon, the DUP leader Arlene Foster said she does not believe UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson would agree to a solution that is specific to the North.

“There has been a lot of speculation about that,” she said. “I have heard what people have to say.”

“What we are focused in is getting a deal that works for the whole of the UK; that works for Northern Ireland.

“To think that any UK Prime Minister would be involved in that sort of thing would just be anathema.”

Brexit

It comes as the UK Parliament officially prorogued – or was suspended – for the next five weeks, with the official October 31st Brexit deadline fast approaching.

Shortly before the late-night suspension, MPs rejected Mr Johnson’s second attempt to trigger an early general election in the UK.

Opposition parties said they would not agree to an election while the threat of a no-deal Brexit remained.

It means Parliament will return just days before the crucial EU Summit on October 17th – where Mr Johnson hopes to agree a new deal.

It remains unclear whether he will abide by new UK legislation requiring him to ask for an extension if no deal has been agreed by that time.

Mr Johnson is continuing to insist he can reach a deal in time – and will take the UK out of the EU on October 31st regardless of what happens.

Duty Free

Meanwhile, the Minister for Finance has confirmed that, under a no-deal Brexit, people travelling from Ireland to Britain will be able to avail of Duty-Free shopping.

There will be no Duty-Free for people travelling cross-border on the island of Ireland.


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Arlene Foster Brexit Duty Free Helen McEntee No-deal Simon Coveney

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