Murphy slams 'nonsensical' suggestion of separate Ireland-UK Brexit deal

European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy has slammed UK suggestions that Ireland and Britain could cut a separate post-Brexit deal outside of talks with the EU as "nonsensical" and completely unworkable, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Correspondent, in Brussels.

The Fine Gael Cork North Central TD made the comments during a break in the European Council's EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, today, saying the Republic remains committee to working with the EU on finding a way to resolve the issue.

Like during a similar meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, in September, the fallout from Brexit remains a key issue for debate among the 27 remaining EU leaders, with ongoing discussion on whether to allow a soft or hard Brexit to occur.

In a high-profile report launched in both London and Dublin on Monday, the House of Lords' parliamentary committee on exiting the EU said a bilateral deal between the Republic and Britain is needed.

They said this is in order to ensure issues such as the common travel area, customs and the border are given the necessary attention.

The suggestion was given little time by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan on Monday, with both senior cabinet members appearing to reject any possibility of the plan.

And speaking today in Brussels, European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy (pictured) ruled it out entirely, saying the idea is "nonsensical" and unworkable as Ireland is staunchly committed to remaining within the EU's negotiation strategy.

"With the greatest of respect to the House of Lords, I think that's a nonsensical proposal," he told the Irish Examiner.

"We will be remaining in the customs union of the 27. We want to have a strong, very strong relationship, with the UK of course, but the UK will either be in the customs union or it won't be.

"Our position is absolutely clear, we will be staying within the union," he said.

Mr Murphy's comments - and his later emphasising of the fact Ireland's largest export market is the EU at 34%, followed by the US at 18% and Britain at 17% - have underlined the Government's position to wanting to find a way to resolve the direct difficulties Brexit has caused the Republic within EU negotiations rather than in separate talks with Britain.

The issue is currently being discussed by the EU's 27 leaders today.

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