Ireland must push for Brexit deal

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Ireland must push for Brexit deal


Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Picture: Tony Gavin
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Picture: Tony Gavin

The visit of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to Ireland last week, and the assurances he repeated in relation to the European Union’s solidarity with this country in what are difficult Brexit negotiations, while obviously welcome have added to the appearance that such events are increasingly part of a tactical interplay between the EU and UK at a time when it seems the negotiations are more likely than ever to go down to the wire next March.

This was not the first time that a leading European figure has paid a timely visit to Dublin in advance of a pivotal moment in the negotiations, as will be the EU summit this week. The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, made a similar high-profile visit before last December’s crucial ‘backstop’ negotiations, his appearance side-by-side with the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, also designed to apply maximum pressure at an opportune moment on the UK.

At that time, after a particularly fraught period in the negotiations, Mr Varadkar hailed the backstop agreement as “cast iron”, “rock solid” and “bullet-proof” but events since have shown it to be not quite so, certainly not as far as the UK is concerned, which subsequently described the deal as “ridiculous”. So while the continued support of the EU towards Ireland is indeed welcome, an impression has been created, nonetheless, that no matter how strong and commendable the vows of solidarity are, Ireland’s hand is now weaker than it was last December.

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