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Dublin: 0°C Sunday 24 January 2021

'A good compromise': Irish political leaders welcome Brexit trade deal breakthrough

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald warns ‘this is not the end of the road’.

Image: DPA/PA Images

THE TAOISEACH HAS said that the post-Brexit trade agreement announced by the European Union and the United Kingdom today represents “a good compromise and a balanced outcome”.

In a statement, Micheál Martin said that he hopes the deal will be approved by both sides over the coming days “to allow the agreement to enter force on 1 January”.

However, while he does “respect” the UK’s choice to leave the EU, “I very much regret the decision,” he said.

“The UK was an important member of the European Union, and Ireland and the UK frequently worked closely together on many EU issues,” Martin said.

“However, as we now approach the end of the Transition Period, I wish the UK well in this new chapter in its history. The UK will always be a close friend and partner.”

On the so-called Irish Protocol contained within the agreement, Martin said he believes it is “a good outcome for the people of Northern Ireland”.

“It enables Northern Ireland business to trade smoothly with Britain and within the EU Single Market. It supports the all-island economy. It protects Ireland’s place in the EU single market and customs union. Most importantly, it avoids a return of a hard border on the island,” he said.

“I am confident that with everyone’s goodwill and working together, it will be a success.”

Commenting on the announcement, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said the Good Friday Agreement has been protected in the deal.

However, she said her party is “under no illusions that there is no good Brexit for Ireland, north or south”.

In a statement, the Dublin Central TD said, “Four and a half years ago the north of Ireland voted to remain, but despite the wishes of the people it now finds itself outside of the European Union as a result of a Tory inspired Brexit.

“There will be relief that a trade deal has now been agreed between Britain and the EU and special arrangements for Ireland, encapsulated in the Irish Protocol, will be implemented.

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“The Good Friday Agreement has been protected, there will be no hardening of the border and protections for the all-island economy are in place. There is also a level of certainty for businesses.

“But we are under no illusions that there is no good Brexit for Ireland, north or south, and the full consequences of this are as yet unknown.”

McDonald said that the text of the deal will now have to be studied in order to “test it against what had been set out in principle in the wider agreement, the Irish Protocol and also against the Good Friday Agreement”.

“This is not the end of the road… So we need to start the planning and we need to start talking about a future beyond Brexit.” 

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