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Coveney on publication of UK position paper

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Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney today spoke to the media to welcome the publication of the UK position paper on Northern Ireland and Ireland in the context of the Brexit negotiation process.

The Minister said:

I, together with the Taoiseach, have been calling for greater clarity from the British Government on its approach to the negotiations, and publication of this paper is timely and helpful.

We will be examining it in detail, but there are elements to be welcomed in terms of Ireland's longstanding priorities - for example on the Common Travel Area, the Good Friday Agreement, PEACE funding and North/South co-operation.

We appreciate the extent to which Irish Government concerns in these areas have been taken on board. In particular, the commitment to "avoiding any physical border infrastructure for any purpose" is very welcome. However, any move away from the status quo on the island of Ireland will be difficult for us and therefore, as all partners have recognised, imaginative and flexible solutions will be required. Ireland of course negotiates as part of the EU and we are stronger as one of the 27.

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

We're working very closely - on a daily basis in practice - with Michel Barnier and his team and will intensify this work as negotiations move up a gear.

The immediate focus for the coming rounds of negotiations remains on advancing the issues identified for phase one, where issues on Ireland are prioritised along with citizens' rights and the financial settlement question.

Sufficient progress will have to be made on these phase one issues before we can begin discussions on trade and future relations between the EU and the UK.

The Government remains hopeful that, together this progress can be made.