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Tánaiste warns no-deal Brexit will ‘devastate’ NI economy

Tánaiste and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney. Credit: PA

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has warned that a no-deal Brexit will “devastate” Northern Ireland’s economy, writing in the Sunday Times.

The Irish Foreign Minister said in the newspaper column that Dublin’s priority since the Brexit referendum has been maintaining peace on the island of Ireland.

Mr Coveney also noted that Brexit was a sovereign matter for Britain, as was Ireland’s decision to remain in the bloc.

“Nevertheless, if Britain decides to leave without a deal, it would cause huge damage to us all,” he wrote, adding that leaving Brussels without a deal would hit Northern Ireland particularly hard.

A no-deal Brexit will devastate the Northern Irish economy with tariffs and rules that will fundamentally disrupt the all-island economy upon which so much progress has been built.

– Tánaiste Simon Coveney

Mr Coveney further stated that the new British prime minister would need to understand that the backstop aspect of Brexit was agreed to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

“The Withdrawal Agreement is a balanced document that deals with the interests of all parties and is not something that is up for renegotiation,” he wrote.

Credit: PA Graphics
Credit: PA Graphics

In May, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn met in Dublin and shared their “serious concerns” about a no-deal Brexit scenario and its “inherent dangers”.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said the pair “considered Brexit, with both sides sharing serious concerns about a no-deal scenario and its inherent dangers, including the possibility that the UK may end up in a no-deal situation by default unless alternatives are pursued”.

Last month, members of the Westminster Foreign Affairs Committee were warned of the danger to Northern Ireland of a no-deal Brexit – including the potential for further violence – during a meeting with local groups and political representatives in Armagh.

In July, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald urged the Irish Government to start preparing for a border poll as the risk of a disorderly Brexit increased.

Ms McDonald said a referendum on Irish unity could happen “very quickly” if the UK crashed out of the EU at the end of October.