Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary; Tánaiste Simon Coveney
During Leaders’ Questions.
Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary asked Tánaiste Simon Coveney about the Brexit deal agreed between the UK and the EU this morning – but rejected by the DUP.
He specifically asked if Mr Coveney could confirm the deal will ensure there are no border or customs checks on the island of Ireland.
He also asked if he could confirm the Good Friday Agreement is “intact” by way of this deal.
And he asked if members of the Irish government – Mr Coveney himself, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar or any of their officials – “engaged” with members of the Democratic Unionist Party in “recent days” to “see if the Irish Government can assuage their concerns, whatever they are, around this deal”.
Mr Coveney said he urged caution and while there is an agreement between UK and Brussels, “that isn’t the end of the process”.
But he said the deal recognises “all of the issues we have been raising over the past three years”.
He said it will “protect” the people on the island of Ireland, and peace and trade on the island.
“It will ensure that there are no checks, whether they be sanitary and phytosanitary, whether they regulatory cheeks, whether they be live animals, or indeed whether they be customs checks in the context of goods travelling and being traded north and south, and south and north. I think that is a very significant achievement.”
He also said:
“The bit that has changed in the Withdrawal Agreement relates to Ireland. Much of the Irish protocol remains the same on issues like the CTA and so on. But the provisions which were previously referred to as the backstop have changed.
“But we have always said that if we can replace the backstop with something else that does the same job on the key issues that I outlined earlier in terms of protecting the peace process preventing a hard border and protecting Ireland’s place in the EU single market and customs union, if we can achieve that, then we will always look favourably on a new approach.
“As long as the outcomes were guaranteed and I believe they are. And that is why I think this is a deal that is worth supporting because it protects core Irish interests.”
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Earlier: Done Deal