Simon Coveney denies any EU frustration with Ireland over no-deal Brexit preparations

The Tánaiste has denied there is growing frustration among other EU countries around Ireland's failure to prepare for a hard border in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking at the Fine Gael national conference in Wexford, Simon Coveney said he "doesn't accept" that Germany and other countries are losing patience with the Irish Government.

The comments came after a request from German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the EU ramp up its plans to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal scenario, with the creation of a taskforce.

Mr Coveney said: "First of all, I don't accept your assumption that there is clearly a frustration with Ireland. There isn't actually. There is an understanding across the EU that the border question is a very emotive and very political question on this island.

"That is why we have had so much solidarity and support from across the EU for solutions to that question. That is why we have the backstop as part of the Irish protocol within the Withdrawal Agreement."

Mr Coveney said there will be an "onus" on Ireland, the EU, and the UK to work together to find a way of preventing a physical border infrastructure which he said would cause unnecessary tension between the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland.

"We have clear commitments that go back to December 2017 and I think all parties will have an obligation to work intensively to come up solutions that can work. It's possible to do that, we have shown that in the context of the backstop, but there will have to three willing partners."

He added: "Even in a no deal scenario, that is why the commission and other EU countries will work with Ireland to ensure while we need to protect the integrity of the single market across the island we will also ensure that does not result in physical infrastructure between the two jurisdictions on this island.

"That has been a conversation that is well understood," Mr Coveney told reporters.

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