1. ITV Report

Irish border question ‘is a European issue’ - Juncker

Jean Claude Junker says the Irish border is an EU issue. Photo: UTV

The President of the EU Commission has said the border question is a European issue and not just an Irish issue.

Jean Claude Juncker told MEPs in Strasbourg the 27 states in Europe stand "firm and united" with Ireland.

“The draft protocol on Ireland should not come as a surprise,” he said. “It translates faithfully last December’s agreement into a legal text.

“The European Union, the 27 member states, stand firm and united when it comes to Ireland - for us, this is not an Irish issue, it is a European issue.”

Credit: UTV

The European Parliament is expected to pass a resolution on Wednesday morning on future EU and UK relations.

It will include a call for no reduction in social and democratic rights in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

The DUP may be a lone voice in Europe, but because of its influence in Downing Street, it is a voice those at the top of the EU pay attention to.

Diane Dodds said: “What we need to see are practical, pragmatic solutions.

“That’s the message my party gave Michel Barnier last week in Brussels and that’s the message I have given them today.”

The Ulster Unionists are due to meet with the chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Wednesday.

UUP MEP Jim Nicholson. Credit: UTV

During Tuesday’s session they were equally unimpressed with the EU's approach.

Jim Nicholson said: “I would say to Mr Tusk, you are playing a high-stakes game with the United Kingdom, and with Northern Ireland in particular.”

The purpose of Tuesday’s session in Strasbourg was for MEPs to debate a resolution on the future EU and UK relationship.

It included things like internal security and trade relations - but two paragraphs are key for Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson said: “Paragraphs 55 and 56 are ensuring there will be no hardening of the border in Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement will be preserved in all of its parts, the backstop, which will operationalised, is the bottom line and there will be no reduction of our rights.”

There was a call to move away from slogans and sound bites, but until there is some sort of substance to the border negotiations, more of the same can be expected.

  • WATCH: Jean Claude Juncker says the EU states stand firm with Ireland