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Government Statement on the publication of the UK's position paper on Northern Ireland and Ireland

The Government welcomes the imminent publication of the UK's position paper on Northern Ireland and Ireland in the context of the Brexit negotiation process.

The Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade have called for greater clarity from the British Government on its approach to the negotiations, and publication of the new paper is timely and helpful in this regard.

The emphasis on the priority areas identified by the Government, including the Common Travel Area, the Good Friday Agreement, North/South cooperation and avoiding a hard border, is welcome. Protecting the Peace Process is crucial and it must not become a bargaining chip in the negotiations.

The Government will analyse the paper in detail, along with the UK paper published yesterday on Future Customs Arrangements.

As these papers are inputs to the negotiation process between the UK and the EU27, the Government will also engage closely with the European Commission, the Barnier Task Force and our EU27 partner Member States regarding them.

The immediate focus for the coming rounds of negotiations remains on advancing the issues identified for phase one of the negotiations, including citizens’ rights and the financial settlement, as well as issues specific to Ireland.

The Government remains hopeful that there will be sufficient progress on these issues to allow the necessary parallel discussions on the future relationship between the EU and the UK, including in relation to customs, to commence.