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Dublin: 8°C Thursday 19 May 2022

Sky News anchor to Coveney: 'Do you think that this week's kerfuffle has been necessary? Do you feel guilty?'

Coveney was speaking to Adam Boulton after this morning’s Brexit deal.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER Simon Coveney has responded to questions around whether he felt guilty over the country’s stance on Brexit, by saying that assurances were needed from the British government before negotiations could continue.

Coveney was speaking to Sky News presenter Adam Boulton after a deal was struck between the UK and the EU this morning.

The deal saw British Prime Minister Theresa May guarantee that there would be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland following Brexit.

The deal follows weeks of tense negotiations between all sides, with the UK wanting to move onto other issues, but Ireland and the EU insisting that this matter be addressed first.

Commenting on the deal, Sky News’ Adam Boulton asked Coveney if all the back and forth had been necessary, and if he felt at all guilty over what had happened.

He also referenced a deal that was almost reached around the issue on Monday, only for it to be scuppered when the UK withdrew its support after it became apparent that the Northern Irish DUP would not back it.

“Do you 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?” Boulton asked Coveney.

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.

Coveney responded that that may have been the briefing on the British side, but that the Irish position had been clear.

“I mean we never looked for or claimed any victory over anybody,” Coveney said.

“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 in the UK that we can manage Brexit and we can limit damage in the way that’s now in this agreement,” he said.

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Coveney said that had always been the Irish government’s position.

“Yes of course there’s 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 went on to list the various assurances that were needed: among them that there will be no return to a hard border on the island; that the Good Friday Agreement will be protected; and that the Common Travel Area between the two nations will be upheld.

He said those assurances had not been given.

Read: Liveblog: Varadkar hails ‘cast iron’ deal as agreement made for no hard border after Brexit

Read: DUP ‘pleased’ with Brexit deal but says ‘more work needs to be done’ on border issue

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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