Published: Wed, November 22, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Ireland must be at the centre of Brexit negotiations - says FTAI

Ireland must be at the centre of Brexit negotiations - says FTAI

Simon Coveney rejected suggestions by Brexiteers that politicians in Dublin and Brussels were seeking to exploit the uncertainty over Northern Ireland's position to strengthen the EU's hand in the negotiations. Johnson reiterated that there will be no hard border in Ireland.

Asked if she was accusing the Irish government of being reckless, Mrs Foster said: "I am accusing them of being reckless because if you listen to some of the rhetoric - and look, nobody understands negotiations probably better than I - there are people who will come out and say things to try and push agendas forward".

An EU paper proposing that Northern Ireland will have to stay in the customs union and single market to avoid a hard border was also reportedly "designed to be leaked".

'I will not be an Irish foreign minister that presides over a negotiation which is not prioritising peace on the island of Ireland, ' he added.

Ms Foster blasted Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who wants to see Northern Ireland stay in the EU Customs Union when the United Kingdom quits in 2019.

Richard Haass said a combination of poor leadership, Brexit and failure to deal with the legacy of the past had created the problems facing Stormont.

Brussels has said it will not move to the second phase of Brexit talks with Britain until London provides additional detail of how it will guarantee that there be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"It's nearly a faux battle because, actually, the detailed issues will come about when we are talking about the trade issues".

Ireland must be at the centre of Brexit negotiations - says FTAI
Ireland must be at the centre of Brexit negotiations - says FTAI

Following the warning, Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, warned the Taoiseach to stop making "careless" threats about Northern Ireland over Brexit.

A former USA diplomat, who chaired previous political negotiations in Northern Ireland, has predicted the current power-sharing impasse could bring a push for Irish unity.

May's spokesman said the PM had been "engaged with the Taoiseach throughout this process".

Earlier, Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, said a return to a hard border was "unthinkable".

A solution was found to the Irish issue in 1998.

Britain wants to move on to Phase Two of the Brexit negotiations - a trade deal with the European Union, however, Ireland and the European Union insist this can only happen when Phase One has concluded.

"If the prime minister does not receive confirmation that the European Union will now start talking seriously about the future relationship, we should tell them we are suspending negotiations until they are ready to do so".

As well as the Irish border, the two other issues that need to be resolved before moving to Phase Two of the negotiations are the UK's divorce bill from the EU and the related issues of British citizens living in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK.

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