Brexit: Time to 'intensify efforts', Irish PM says

Jean-Claude Juncker is on a two-day visit to the country, as the United Kingdom and European Union (EU) continue to disagree about how to deal with the Irish border after Brexit.

He was backed up by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said: "Ireland is not alone".

Claiming there is "clearly a great deal of work" remaining to be done in Brexit negotiations, Mr Coveney said: "Our strong preference remains an overall EU-UK future relationship which would resolve all issues".

The main focus of the summit in Guernsey will be Brexit and its implications, with further discussions on the current political situation in Northern Ireland.

"The European Council renews its call upon Member States and all stakeholders to step up their work on preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes", the draft said.

European Council President Donald Tusk will not take part in the meeting.

On Friday he will meet President Michael D Higgins and visit Croke Park where he will see a demonstration of gaelic football and hurling.

The President of the European Commission will address a joint sitting of the Dáil and Seanad this morning.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will attend the British-Irish Council summit in the Channel Islands later today.

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But there will be no withdrawal agreement without a fully operation backstop.

Half of Labour voters said they would put leaving the EU ahead of maintaining the UK's union, while 73 per cent of Conservatives said the same.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, also attended, along with Tanaiste Simon Coveney and European Union agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan.

In a joint statement, the Scottish and Welsh leaders said quitting was not in the national interest and urged Mrs May to secure a Norway-style solution in the European Union exit talks.

"If Mr Juncker was really focused on helping Ireland, he would be encouraging the European Union to focus on getting a post-Brexit trade deal in place".

"The most important aspect of the withdrawal agreement for us is the backstop, and Prime Minister May committed in March that there would be a backstop and outlined in December what that backstop would contain".

"A withdrawal agreement without a backstop is of no use whatsoever", he said. Now we're seeing the consequences of kicking every tough decision into the long grass.

When the Sinn Féin leadership team met with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Wednesday they raised the issue of the need for a City Deal for Derry with her.

"That means businesses up and down the country will be left in the lurch right up until the last minute, while those in Ireland wait to find out whether this government wants to safeguard their fragile peace settlement".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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