‘Good chance’ of a Brexit deal in the next few days, Irish Foreign Minister says

By James Ward and Michael McHugh, PA
·2-min read

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said he believes there is a “good chance” of securing a Brexit deal in the coming days.

Mr Coveney was speaking ahead of a trip to Paris on Thursday where he is due to meet with his French counterparts.

He said the coming days will be filled with tensions and stand-offs as both sides aim to secure the best deal possible, but was optimistic about a positive result.

The Minister said: “It’s the time to hold our nerve, to trust Michel Barnier, who has done a phenomenal job to date.

“And I believe, if we do that, there’s a good chance that we can get a deal across the line in the next few days.”

The two outstanding issues remain fishing rights and the level playing field, but Mr Coveney said these issues could not be parked in the hope they can be resolved next year.

Fishing remains an issue in talks (Steve Parsons/PA)
Fishing remains an issue in talks (Steve Parsons/PA)

Doing so, he said, “means we move into a period of significant disruption and cost, stress and tension and political blame games between London and Brussels.

“From an Irish perspective, we get caught in the crossfire there,” he told Newstalk.

Mr Coveney said he believes the UK wants a deal, but added “they don’t always behave like that”, noting the internal market and finance Bills, both of which could breach the Northern Ireland protocol.

On Wednesday Mr Coveney said any move to introduce those bills would be taken as a “clear signal” by the EU that the UK does not want a deal.

Without the Northern Ireland protocol, which prevents a hard border on the island of Ireland, there would be a breakdown in trust and talks would collapse, Mr Coveney said.

The Foreign Affairs Minister is visiting Paris on Thursday for discussions with his French counterparts.

The Foreign Affairs Minister will exchange views on Brexit and other European issues of common interest.

Mr Coveney said: “I am very happy to be in Paris today to work on deepening the extensive and ever-important partnership between Ireland and France.

“Our enduring friendship has proven invaluable this year as we have worked together to deal with the economic and social challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He will hold discussions with the French Minister for European and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

He will also meet with the French Minister of State for European Affairs, Clement Beaune.

Mr Coveney added: “At this important moment, I look forward to discussing Brexit with my French colleagues.

“I greatly appreciate the solidarity that France has consistently shown throughout this process.

“I know that we will also continue our strong record of cooperation at the UN Security Council, when Ireland takes up its seat in the coming weeks.

“As like-minded EU member states, I am confident that we will have a close and constructive relationship during our term.”