Irish ambassador tells UK open Irish border is ‘essential’

A man with an EU inspired flag walks past a pub near Government Buildings, in Dublin, Ireland. (Reuters) Related News

The Irish Ambassador to Britain said on Tuesday that a continued open border between Northern Ireland and Ireland after Brexit was “essential” for peace. Brexit negotiations between Britain and the European Union (EU) were halted on Monday just as both sides appeared to have reached an agreement over how to deal with Britain’s only land border with an EU state, Xinhua news agency reported.

However, the talks fell apart on Monday afternoon after British Prime Minister Theresa May was told by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that it did not back May. DUP leader Arlene Foster said that it did not support May’s deal on the future of the Irish border. The agreement May believed she had reached on Monday lunchtime was no longer available after a phone conversation with Foster.

Foster’s DUP agreed over the summer after the general election to support May’s minority government, and May relies on the support of its ten MPs to stay in power. Adrian O’Neill, Irish ambassador to Britain, was quoted on Tuesday at a briefing at the Institute for Government (IFG) in London: “An open border is essential to protect the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.”

“For us it is about maintaining the status quo about making sure we avoid any hardening of the border in Ireland. That has been the objective of the Irish government since the Brexit referendum,” he added. The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland was a hard border but developments in 1992 and then the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) of 1998, which brought peace to Northern Ireland after the decades-long Troubles, ended that.

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