Stop 'pussyfooting around Ireland' - Paisley warns UK


Whilst agreeing with British ministers and EU negotiators that it is inconceivable for there to be a return to a hard border with the north, Dublin argues that the best way for the United Kingdom to achieve this would be by permanently remaining in a customs union with the EU and seeking single market membership like Norway through the European Economic Area.

The report, by Doughty Street Chambers, proposes several models for special status and says that there is an "essential" need for a unique solution.

Prime Minister Theresa May has sworn a mighty oath that the United Kingdom will leave both the "single market" and the customs union, but that will turn this "soft" frontier into a "hard" EU border with a non-EU country: border guards, customs checks, passports, queues and all the rest. Such an option would probably be anathema...

Prime Minister Theresa May needs to find a way of wording a commitment to the European Union that Brexit will not mean a hard border goes up between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, when the 482km line dividing them becomes the UK's new frontier with the EU.

Northern Ireland has been without an executive since January, when the governing parties - the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin - split in a bitter row.

May has a week to find a compromise on the conflicting Brexit demands from the north and south of Ireland, just as a political scandal threatening the Irish government could further undermine her chances of success. So why do we have a situation where this technology and identification system, which could provide a resolution to the problem, is being ignored in one area and promoted in another?

With the UK's divorce bill reportedly settled, European Union citizens' rights and Ireland remain the potential stumbling blocks that could hamper negotiations.

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"We are not at a decision point at the moment".

The British and Irish Chamber of Commerce has come up with a plan, which combines British ideas for new customs arrangements with European Union rules to chart a new route through what presently seems like an impossible blockage.

The suggestion of regulatory changes were welcomed by Joe O'Reilly, Fine Gael spokesman on foreign affairs and trade in the Irish Senate, who said they would represent "a massive move towards a frictionless border".

"If the Republic of Ireland is going to keep shouting at our border and telling us that it is all doom and gloom and we are not going to get a proper relationship, that interferes in the negotiation process".

"Then all that money - £60 billion lying around - we could use that to help the NHS and other things and even do tax cuts".

The UK would be allowed some restrictions on free movement.

The paper quoted sources in Dublin as saying that there had been "movement" on the issue and confidence was growing that agreement could be reached in time for next month's summit in Brussels. "The Irish want to extract some kind of commitments from the United Kingdom that are more than a general promise about the fact that you could maintain regulatory convergence on the island", they said.