Move border to Irish Sea after Brexit, says Coveney

A mock customs post set up at Ravensdale Co Louth when anti Brexit campaigners held a protest earlier this year

A mock customs post set up at Ravensdale Co Louth when anti Brexit campaigners held a protest earlier this year

Officials in Britain are claiming that the Minister for Foreign Affairs' statements on the Irish border represent a change in policy from the Irish government.

His latest comments came after Northern Irish MPs vowed to fight Dublin's demands for a sea border with Britain after Brexit.

Politicians in London, Dublin, Belfast and Brussels have all said they want to avoid the return of a "hard border".

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney, speaking at a meeting of European Union foreign affairs ministers last week, said: "What we do not want to pretend is that we can solve the problems of the border on the island of Ireland through technical solutions like cameras and pre-registration and so on".

"There is no realistic solution that has been put forward", he said. "That is not going to work".

It said on Friday that risks remained to the downside but, in the absence of an immediate Brexit hit, it was also marking up its gross domestic product (GDP) forecast for 2018 to 3.6% from 3.2% previously.

The paper said the issue will require "a political and not just a technical solution" and noted that both the British and Irish governments had indicated their intention to maintain the Common Travel Area (CTA).

The MP for Lagan Valley said that the Irish Government was being "too pessimistic" in its approach to the border issue and should be "careful" in its inference that a border would lead the IRA back to violence.

"That would not be something that was acceptable to us or to the people of Northern Ireland".

Meanwhile, an European Union official told the Reuters news agency that there had been no detailed talks on the Irish border as yet.

The row over the UK's future relationship with Ireland has intensified, with the Irish government calling for customs and immigration checks to be located at ports and airports.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has acknowledged that "flexible and imaginative solutions" will be needed to resolve issues around Northern Ireland.

"The risks of a hard border are not exclusively economic or trade related", reads the statement.

With additional reporting from Gavan Reilly.

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