Simon Coveney: Brexit deal 'no threat to nationalism or unionism'

Simon Coveney: Brexit deal 'no threat to nationalism or unionism'

Update 1.20pm: Politicians here have been reacting to the fallout from a dramatic morning of Brexit developments.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has defended the Irish government’s welcoming of the UK cabinet deal last night, following criticism from Fianna Fáil:

Simon Coveney has been taking Leaders Questions on an eventful day for Irish, UK and European politics.

Amid a string of ministerial resignations in the UK, Mr Coveney defended the Taoiseach last night who commented after the UK cabinet agreement for saying that it was one of the better days in politics.

"There are many people out there who were very skeptical that is was possible to get this deal done and it is the role of government to be able to explain to people in appropriate language why this deal is no threat to nationalism or unionism," he said.

Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokesperson, Lisa Chambers says the Irish government needs to calm down:

"Our own government now needs to calm down, needs to give the UK government space," she said.

I think it's unhelpful to have the Taoiseach coming out last night and this morning in a very self-congratulatory tone.

Northern leaders of Sinn Fein, SDLP, The Alliance Party and the Green Party earlier met with the Taoiseach to discuss the deal.

Sinn Fein’s leader in the North, Michelle O’Neill says the future remains unclear.

"I think it's a very unpredicatable situation," she said.

"I don't think any of us have a crystal ball and can guess what's going to happen throughout the course of the next number of days, but I think for our part what has been achieved has been significant for the people of the North.

There's no good to come of Brexit. I think it's a day for a glass half full.

Digital Desk

Earlier: FF hit out at Varadkar for claiming victory on Brexit deal

By Elaine Loughlin

Update 11.52am: Fianna Fáil have hit out at Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who "couldn't help himself" in claiming victory on the Brexit deal last night.

With British prime minister Theresa May coming under intense pressure as she continues to address the House of Commons, Fianna Fáil warned that a deal has yet to be ratified and the Irish Government should still be planning for a no-deal Brexit.

Simon Coveney: Brexit deal 'no threat to nationalism or unionism'

Fianna Fáil Brexit spokesperson Lisa Chambers criticised Mr Varadkar who last night said he felt "pretty good" about the deal and added that it was "one of the better days in politics".

Speaking outside the Dáil, Ms Chambers said: "I think our own Government need to be far more aware that their actions, their self-congratulations, their patting themselves on the back here in Dublin absolutely negatively feeds into what's happening in the Commons today."

Calling for calm she said: "What we have seen last night from the Taoiseach saying that what they have achieved now is even stronger than last December, that's extremely unhelpful because right now Theresa May and her Cabinet are dealing with a very challenging situation.

"Our Government, while they maintained 24 hours silence up until the 9pm news last night, they simply couldn't help themselves and found that they were quick off the mark to try and congratulate themselves on their own perceived victory, that's unhelpful."

She said the resignation of senior ministers in the UK this morning is very concerning and the UK parliament needs to be given "space" to ratify the withdrawal treaty.

"We absolutely have to have a plan B, we need to prepare for all possible eventualities including the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, that's still possible," Ms Chambers said.

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