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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 26 May, 2020

Angela Merkel says a solution to avoid a hard border must be found: 'Where there's a will, there's a way'

The Taoiseach met with Angela Merkel in Dublin today.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

ANGELA MERKEL has said a solution to avoid a hard border in Ireland must be found in the scenario of a no-deal Brexit. 

Meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Farmleigh House in Dublin today to discuss Brexit, the German Chancellor said “we are more than aware of what is at stake and what must be solved”. 

She said she understood the “sort of assurances we have to give” but added that European leaders have trust in those negotiating Brexit with the UK. 

When asked is it possible to protect the integrity of the single market and make a commitment that anything resembling a border can be ruled out on the island of Ireland, Merkel said:

Let me say we will simply have to be able to do this. We simply have to be able to do this, we hope for a solution that we can agree together with Britain but we simply have to be successful and I heard that you have the same saying to what we say in Germany, where there’s a will there’s a way.
We’re working on this and we have good partners indeed in the commission with Michel Barnier and Jean Claude Juncker who are putting everything into finding a solution… we still hope for an orderly Brexit

Merkel said everything is being put into finding a solution, together. 

 ”We will find a sensible solution,” she said.

“We will simply have to be able to do this, we hope for a solution that we can agree together with Britain,” she said. 

Brexit Source: PA Wire/PA Images

“We want to stand together as 27. Until the very last hour – I can say this from the German side – we will do everything in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit: Britain crashing out of the European Union. 

‘Moving’ meeting with those living on the border

Ahead of their formal meeting the two leaders participated in a roundtable discussion with people from Northern Ireland and the border area.

Members of the public who live along the border area shared their personal experiences and perspectives on the impact any return to a hard border would have on border communities and businesses.

These included a peace worker in Belfast who lost close family members in a bomb attack, a Unionist farmer and haulier from Inishowen in Donegal and a GP from Inishowen who now lives in Derry.

Some of the people had direct personal experience of the conflict before the Good Friday Agreement.

Merkel said meeting with those that live along the border was a very “important experience”. She described it as “moving”, mentioning her experience of a divided Germany.

“I personally come, after all, from a country that for many years was divided by a wall,” the Chancellor said.

For 34 years I lived behind the Iron Curtain so I know only too well what it means once borders vanish, once walls fall and that one needs to do anything in order to bring about a peaceful cooperation.

After all a heavy death toll has been taken here throughout the Troubles.

She said she learnt about what it “means for their life” living on the border, adding that it will “encourage me to ensure this peaceful agreement” is upheld. 

Varadkar paid tribute to those that shared their stories, stating that it made it clear why the issue of the border “transcends” economic issues. 

Speaking about Westminster, she said there has been “quite a lot of movement”, although she said she was not in a position to answer speculative questions about what will happen if the deal is not ratified. 

“There is vast majority that want to avoid a disorderly Brexit and this is my starting point,” said Merkel, who said the debate that are ongoing in the UK parliament must be respected. 

“Both Ireland and Germany want to have a future relationship with the UK which is close and comprehensive and as deep as possible, and we would like to see the Withdrawal Agreement ratified so that we can begin the negotiations on a new economic and security partnership without further delay,” said Varadkar.

He added: “There is very little time left and we have to prepare ourselves for all outcomes.”

Speaking about what will happen in a no-deal scenario, Varadkar said “it is not possible quite frankly to have a clear plan… a lot of it will depend on what Britain decides to do”.

“With so many unknowables it is not possible to have a clear plan,” but he reiterated that Ireland remains committed to its objectives – to protect the Good Friday Agreement and avoid a hard border. 

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