Brexit an opportunity for Irish unity debate, says Mary McAleese

Brexit an opportunity for Irish unity debate, says Mary McAleese

Brexit an opportunity for Irish unity debate, says Mary McAleese

"The EU can not be held hostage to the resolution of a political crisis in the United Kingdom on a long-term basis", Macron said, adding that granting Britain a lengthy extension of the deadline for leaving the bloc was "not a certainty".

The EU's Brexit negotiator, Mr Michel Barnier, said on Tuesday the EU was working with Ireland "on a unilateral basis in the event of a no-deal deal, to know where we can do these checks", but refused to elaborate further.

McAleese, who was speaking during the Dublin City University (DCU) Brexit Institute Conference on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, said there is a need to ensure the "groundwork is laid" ahead of any Irish unity referendum.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said European leaders need to be open to any credible proposals that Britain's Theresa May puts forward to break the Brexit deadlock at an emergency summit next week.

She added: "Someday they will be asked to decide that, and those of us, and I am one of them, who believe that the truest and best potential of this entire island and all its people will only be realized when Northern Ireland and Ireland merge, and emerge as a modern, European democracy, inclusive of all, respectful of all", she said.

Mr Coveney added that in the case of a no-deal Ireland will have a dual obligation to manage the border issues and also protect the integrity of the European Union single market.

Mr Varadkar said any Brexit extension needed "a clear objective, clear plan".

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The Irish premier met with Macron ahead of talks with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dublin.

"I will thank him for the ongoing solidarity from France, including the clear commitment that the Withdrawal Agreement must include an operational backstop to avoid a hard border", Mr Varadkar said.

"We can not avoid failure for them - a long extension involving the UK's participation in the European elections and in the EU's institutions is far from evident".

The DUP and some Brexiteer MPs oppose it because if it took effect, it would keep Northern Ireland only tied to some EU regulatory rules, and would keep the whole of the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU.

A spokeswoman from the French government said on Monday that France wanted to avoid "Brexit causing Ireland to be detached from the European Union".

"At the last European Council meeting, we gave the United Kingdom some time and opportunity to come up with a way forward".

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