Ireland’s Coveney Promises Checks “Somewhere Away From the Border”

Brexiteers will feel vindicated after Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, Simon Coveney has voiced what Guido reported back in July, that the Irish Government is planning for checks away from the border, ensuring it remains soft. He told a business event that checks would be introduced “somewhere away from the Border”:

“We recognise the reality that Ireland will have a responsibility to protect its own place in the single market. That will involve some checks. But I can assure you we will try to do that in a way that limits the risk. And we will try and do it away from the Border.”

Coveney said that his Government would have to introduce checks on the Irish side of the border, but not on the border itself. He also said it will be up to the British whether it wanted to place checks on goods on the Northern Irish side of the border.

The Irish Government accepting that the border may remain soft in the event of a No Deal, accepting what Eurosceptics have been saying for months does beg the question: If they can institute checks away from the border in the event of No Deal, why not in the event of a backstopectomied deal..?

Coveney Casts Doubts on Ireland’s No Deal Plans

The wobbles among the Irish political class over Varadkar’s uncompromising stance on the backstop are continuing to grow. Now former Irish Europe Minister Lucinda Creighton has penned an article defending opposition spokesman Tommy Dooley – who caused a major stir last week after lashing out at Varadkar’s “arrogant” Brexit approach and accusing him of a “failure to engage in basic diplomacy”. Creighton, who was a key figure in the ‘Yes’ campaigns in Ireland’s two Lisbon Treaty referendums, writes:

“The idea that the government’s stance is beyond criticism or scrutiny is quite ridiculous… That an opposition TD was forced to delete a tweet simply because it criticised the Taoiseach and the government’s handling of Brexit and British relations is a cause for concern…

“It is almost impossible to find a dissenting voice which dares to suggest the framing of the backstop in the withdrawal agreement might not in fact be in Ireland’s best interests…

“Such a mass closing of minds to alternative opinion is deeply worrying. I say this as someone who broadly agrees that the backstop is the optimal way to avoid a hard border and protect the Good Friday Agreement. However, to choose to ignore the risks inherent in the EU and Irish position is plainly wrong. We need to face up to them.”

It comes after Patrick Coveney – brother of Tánaiste Simon Coveney and CEO of Irish food giant Greencore – warned that Ireland’s no-deal contingency plans for smooth goods transit across the UK land bridge might not work in practice. Will the younger Coveney heed the warning of his older brother and shift his position on the backstop…?

Coveney Begins No Deal Blame Game Already

The new PM hasn’t even been announced and Irish Deputy PM Simon Coveney is already trying to pass the buck on no deal, sticking to his line that the backstop is the only game in town so it’ll be the fault of the Brits if a deal doesn’t go through because of it. Never mind the fact that his government has already published plans for checks away from the border if there’s no deal…

Coveney: A Backstop With a Time Limit Isn’t A Backstop

Ireland Getting Nervous About EU Stitch-Up

The Irish political class is getting increasingly nervous about the EU throwing them under the bus, with the Irish Independent coming out with a searing editorial today aimed at the EU after a “senior EU diplomat” reportedly said that the EU would force Ireland to “choose between setting up a physical Border with Northern Ireland and de facto leaving the single market” in the event of no deal. Ireland’s leaders slowly waking up to the realisation that the EU will happily toss them to one side once they stop being useful as a stick to beat the British with

Simon Coveney’s office was forced to respond, pointing to the EU’s numerous public statements that there will be no harder border in the event of no deal. He’s right, it is simply not going to happen over a few gallons of milk and bags of aggregate. So why is the backstop necessary at all?

Leo Varadkar has since upped the rhetoric today, saying that anyone who expects the “solidarity” of the EU with Ireland to change was in for a “nasty surprise”. If Ireland had continued working with the UK to develop technological solutions instead of treating the UK as an adversary and knowingly going down the path of brinkmanship over the backstop, the whole impasse could have been amicably resolved months ago. Instead Varadkar is nervously watching his (chlorinated?) chickens starting to come home to roost…

Coveney on the Backstop

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney insisted on Marr that the backstop couldn’t be changed because nobody had come up with a “pragmatic, sensible and legally sound” alternative way to avoid a hard border.

That’s despite Michel Barnier saying on Wednesday that the EU would find an “operational way of carrying out checks and controls without putting back in place a border” in the event of no deal and that his team had “worked hard to study how controls can be made paperless or decentralised”Ireland knows there won’t be a hard border either way but won’t admit it as it will undermine their hardline position on the backstop…

Irish Foreign Minister: We Could Introduce Checks in the Sea

Irish Foreign Minister and Tánaiste Simon Coveney has been caught on tape saying to Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross that checks on goods will be introduced in the event of a no deal Brexit, and even suggested that those checks “could be in the sea.” He said that he couldn’t publicly acknowledge this for fear of a backlash…

The two members of the Irish Government were talking at the end of press briefing, apparently not realising that the microphone was still live.

The Independent.ie has transcribed the conversation:

Shane Ross: “Yeah. The border one, should I not have said that?”

[This is a reference to a question Mr Ross was asked about whether a truck travelling from Scotland by boat to Larne could then proceed to the Republic without any checks. During the press briefing, he replied: “I would anticipate that there would be checks.”]

Simon Coveney: “Yes, but we can’t get into where they’ll be at this stage. They could be in the sea, they could be… But once you start talking about checks anywhere near the border, people will start delving into that and all of a sudden we’ll be the government that reintroduced a physical border on the island of Ireland.”

Shane Ross: “Yeah, but I didn’t know what to say.”

This reveals a certain disingenuousness on the Irish government’s part because any prospect of checks at a land border would play into Sinn Fein’s hands and is politically unacceptable to the Irish government. Any prospect of a sea border would inflame the DUP/ERG and is politically unacceptable to the UK government. Unless the checks are going to be across the Celtic Sea between Ireland and the EU26…

Ireland: No Deal, No Hard Border

Ireland have once again confirmed that they have no plans to erect a hard border on the island of Ireland even if there is no Brexit deal. The Irish Government published their contingency planning for no deal yesterday, with Foreign Minister Simon Coveney confirming that Ireland has no plans to build a hard border in the event of no deal. The backstop is spurious – there is not going to be a hard border whatever happens…

What the Irish Government has been doing as part of its contingency plans – and what the UK has not to any significant degree – is buying up land around their ports in order to have the space to build new infrastructure should it be required. Change Britain’s Ross Thomson makes the point that the UK Government must start “acting responsibly” by making the “necessary preparations including at our ports”. Regardless of whether there is a deal or not now, the Government will inevitably need some extra land at ports if it ever plans to leave the customs union…

France has been buying up land near its ports as well, while Ireland, France and the Netherlands are all well into the process of recruiting extra customs officers. The UK should be miles ahead of its EU neighbours in preparing for no deal, yet in many areas it finds itself behind. Government Departments and the Treasury are still playing the blame game about why preparations haven’t happened sooner. Remainer attempts to stop the preparations outright are beyond daft. The bottom line is that the UK government has a paramount responsibility to implement no deal preparations at full speed now, whatever the politics of the situation…

UPDATE: An Irish Government Minister said this morning that Ireland was “working towards” increased checks at Irish ports and airports in order to “satisfy single market requirements” in a no deal scenario. For over a year Brexiteers have been dismissed for saying checks away from the land border would work, now it appears to be Irish Government policy…

Irish FM: Brexit Deal 90% Done

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney gives an optimistic progress check on the Brexit deal, saying that the Withdrawal Agreement is 90% agreed. Though it’s going to be more than just a “bumpy ride” for May if she formally climbs down on the customs union as expected this week…

Irish Foreign Minister Claims “No Infrastructure” Means No Technological Solution

Simon Coveney, the Irish Tánaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade, knows there are no votes in an easy Brexit for an Irish politician. He reiterated to Nick Robinson that the British had signed up last year to “no border infrastructure on the island of Ireland and no related checks or controls. That means we are not talking about cameras and scanning systems and drones here.” He wants a purely political solution, e.g. regulatory alignment.

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