No compromise on backstop but Ireland will support no-deal delay

PUBLISHED: 16:12 27 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:21 28 January 2019

Simon Coveney on Andrew Marr 27/01

Simon Coveney on Andrew Marr 27/01

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Ireland has ruled out allowing a time limit on the Irish backstop or allowing the UK to unilaterally withdraw, calling it a threat to the island's increasingly fragile Good Friday peace process.

Ireland’s deputy Prime Minister has ruled out allowing a time limit on the Irish backstop or allowing the UK to unilaterally withdraw, calling it a threat to the island’s increasingly fragile Good Friday peace process.

Speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr show, the Irish deputy Simon Coveney said there was no more compromise on the backstop - but added that Ireland would support a delay in the UK’s departure from the EU on 29 March. The UK can unilaterally end Brexit, but a delay would require the agreement of the EU.

“We have already agreed to a series of compromises and that has resulted in what has been agreed. Ireland has the same position as the EU that it’s part of a balanced package and that’s not going to change.

“There is no magic solution for this problem; that is why the Ireland will insist on the UK keeping its word on protecting a fragile peace process.

“There is an obligation on people to have pragmatic solutions here instead of wishful thinking.”

While a new proposals set out in parliament this week “may command a majority in Westminster is has “no chance of getting ratification in the EU,” he added.

Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Europe Minister Helen McEntee made it clear that the backstop was a direct result of Theresa’s May’s so-called ‘red lines’. And she set out Ireland’s own red lines: to avoid a hard border with Ireland which may cause a return of The Troubles.

“It simply something we cannot countenance and that hasn’t changed,” she said of Ireland’s commitment to avoid a hard border. The Irish Government has already compromised as far as it can to meet the UK’s Brexit demands, she said. The Irish Government’s priority is now to protect the Good Friday agreement and they expect the UK to meet its obligations to do the same.

“We believe we have found the best way that whatever happens we never return to the borders of the past,” she said of the backstop. “There are still obligations, Brexit or no Brexit.

“All we are asking is that those commitments are fulfilled. Even those who want to leave without a deal that they don’t want to see a border returned in this island. The responsibility for the UK to ensure we don’t have a border.

She cited the recent car bombing in Londonderry underlines the need for the UK to renew its commitment to the Good Friday peace agreement and warned it would not just be the island that would suffer.

“To suggest we would compromise on the backstop would suggest that we would compromise on the peace that we have we need it to make sure that we protect the peace.”

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