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09th Dec 2017

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney answers Adam Boulton’s “do you think this week’s kerfuffle has been necessary?”

Kate Demolder

Simon Coveney 1-0 Adam Boulton.

Amidst the heated discussion of Brexit negotiations this week, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney was asked by Sky News anchor Adam Boulton whether he thinks the “kerfuffle” involved within the talk was “necessary”.

Noted discussion topics that made up this so-called ”kerfuffle” were the protection of the Good Friday Agreement, the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK and the guarantee of no hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

The freshly appointed Tánaiste appeared on Sky News to discuss the development.

Upon joining the newsroom, anchor Adam Boulton asked him: “Do think that this week’s kerfuffle has been necessary? Do you feel slightly guilty that perhaps the Irish government over-briefed what had been achieved as a victory over the British for the European Union?

“That [then] provoked the DUP and if you had been a bit more straightforward about a practical agreement at the beginning we wouldn’t have had these four days of turmoil.”

To which Mr Coveney replied: “Clearly that’s a briefing you’ve been getting from the British side, we never looked for or claimed any victory over anybody.

“We have been saying for many months now that we want to work with the British government to try to find a way forward that can reassure people in Ireland as well as within the UK that we can manage Brexit and we can limit damage in the way that’s now in this agreement.

“That has always been our position and, yes of course, there has been some friction because many people have been saying, ‘look we don’t need and don’t want to give those assurances right now, we’ll deal with these issues in phase two’.

“The Irish government’s response has always been that, for us, that’s like a jump into the dark.

“We don’t know where we’re going to land, we don’t know whether we’re going to have unintended consequences and we need basic reassurance that actually certain things will not happen under any circumstances when we move onto phase two.”

He continued:

“One of those issues is the assurance that there will not be a hard border on the island. Another is that we will protect the Good Friday Agreement, another is that we will protect peace funding.

“Another is that we will protect what is called the Common Travel Area between Ireland and Britain so that people will be able to move between both countries and live,work, study and access social welfare entitlements, health care and so on.

“All of those things are really important, they are part of normal life and the relationship between our two islands, which is a complex one but a deeply woven one between Irish and British people.

“We wanted some guarantees and assurances in phase one before we move onto phase two, so that we can settle some of the concerns that people have and I think we have achieved that.”

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