Simon Coveney: Backstop 'Essential' In Withdrawal Agreement

Ireland's Foreign Affairs minister has stressed the importance of the border backstop as part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, which he maintains is not up for renegotiation.

The backstop is a measure accepted by the EU to protect against a hard border and any type of physical checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic, as part of the terms of the UK's divorce.

Speaking in the Irish Parliament, Simon Coveney said it was an "essential part" of the deal.

"It acts as an insurance policy, to ensure that there is no hard border on this island following Brexit."

The Tánaiste also warned against a no-deal Brexit, which he believes would become a "damage limitation" exercise.

"It would be impossible in a no-deal scenario to maintain the current seamless arrangements between the EU and UK across a full range of sectors, which is currently facilitated by our common EU membership."

Ahead of the Brexit deadline which remains set for 29 March, The Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland warned that motorists wishing to drive across the border would need to purchase a 'green card' for travel if the UK leaves the EU without reaching an agreement on the terms of its exit.
News Image
Mr Coveney added that the EU would be as helpful as possible in the next 70 days leading up to Brexit and would be "happy to evolve its position" if the UK chose to shift its red lines on leaving the customs union and the single market, but reiterated that Prime Minister Theresa May's rejected deal was not up for renegotiation.

Meanwhile, in a phone conversation with Secretary of State Karen Bradley, Sinn Fein's Deputy Leader expressed her concerns about the unfolding political chaos at Westminster.

Michelle O'Neill said: "I had a frank discussion with the British Secretary of State and I told her that her government is clearly still not listening to fears of the public who are aghast at the pantomime currently playing out in Parliament.

"With each passing day, our business community, our farmers, our community and voluntary sector are growing more concerned at where this shambles will ultimately end up. And it is they who will pay the price of a no-deal crash Brexit.

"Unfortunately that is where we are likely to end up if Karen Bradley's government pursues a solution by attempting to placate and appease the DUP and the hard Brexiteers.

"Those people are clearly not concerned about the impact of their reckless actions on our economy and our communities."

Michelle O'Neill urged the Dublin Government and the EU27 to "stand firm" on their position that "there can be no agreement without a backstop".


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

15 February 2018
Sinn Fein To Meet With Irish And UK Governments After Talks Fail
Sinn Fein is to meet with both the Irish and UK governments today, 15 February, after DUP leader Arlene Foster confirmed talks to restore power-sharing in NI had failed. Northern Ireland has been without an Executive since January 2017. Mr Foster said there was "no current prospect" of a deal.
13 August 2019
Giants Causeway Ranked Third Most Incredible Sight In The UK
The Giant's Causeway has been named the UK's third most incredible sight by Lonely Planet. The travel publisher compiled a list of the 500 most unmissable experiences and hidden gems across the UK, with sights across Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands recognised.
09 August 2019
Extra Week To Explore Bids For H&W
The administrators in control of the iconic Harland and Wolff shipyard have allowed another week to find a buyer. Several potential bidders are believed to have expressed interest in the under-threat shipyard, BDO Northern Ireland has said.
08 August 2014
Good Friday Agreement Under Threat - Adams
The Good Friday Agreement is facing its greatest ever challenge, according to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Mr Adams made the comments in a keynote statement today, when he said the "political process faces its greatest challenge since the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998.
10 April 2013
Cameron Hails Good Friday Agreement
Prime Minister David Cameron has praised the Good Friday Agreement to mark the 15th anniversary of the power-sharing deal. "I have no doubt that the Agreement was a truly momentous event in the history of Northern Ireland," he said.