Simon Coveney, The Tanaiste, said on Friday that Ireland would not be “collateral damage” for Britain's Brexit plans, while also urging all sides to be honest and admit that “we are not close to a deal right now”.
His remark comes in stark contrast to those recently made by Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, who said the UK and EU share a “common purpose” in reaching a new withdrawal deal, after a meeting in Brussels with chief EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, Presstv Reported.
The backstop policy – aimed at preventing the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland – has proven to be the biggest bone of contention in EU-UK talks thus far.
UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has insisted that the EU scrap the controversial Northern Ireland backstop element of the existing deal. Any new checks between the two nations have been predicted to likely trigger both peaceful civil disobedience and then terrorist attacks.
Mr. Johnson also said he will not allow infrastructure on the Irish border in a no-deal Brexit. However, the UK government’s “Yellowhammer” report into the potential effects of a no-deal Brexit suggested that this would not be sustainable.
Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin of the Northern Ireland Police Service (PSNI) recently warned that Northern Ireland was gradually sliding back towards a level of violence not seen since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The uncertainty over the backstop is set to complicate politics within Northern Ireland, in addition to increasing diplomatic and political tension between Britain and the Irish Republic.
It is for this reason that more and more Irish nationalists are beginning to view Brexit as an opportunity to loosen London’s grip on the north and to prepare the grounds for a union with the south.