Tánaiste Simon Coveney will go before Cabinet this morning to discuss contingency plans if there is a no deal Brexit.
"I still think a no deal Brexit is unlikely, but we have to be prepared to it," he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.
Mr Coveney said he did not believe that British Prime Minister Theresa May had said she was going to seek the removal of the backstop, but that she recognised many were worried and she wanted to seek reassurances about the backstop and the issues around it.
The EU had made it very clear, he said, that the backstop is not going to change. The text of the withdrawal agreement had been hard won. It had taken two years to “put together”.
Mr Coveney said he doesn't believe the wording of the withdrawal agreement will change, but that the EU will work to provide more clarity. “The Irish government has no issue with offering reassurances.”
With regard to the back-stop, it was only ever intended to be temporary, he said. “The DUP has changed it into something that it isn't, they've created fear. There is no threat to the sovereignty of Northern Ireland.”
Theresa May understands the fragility of the peace process on the island of Ireland, he said.
The back-stop is not something to be feared. There was no ulterior motive in it, it is consistent with the promises to the people “of this island.”
Mr Coveney added that plans are underway for Brexit – with or without a deal.
Ireland has to prepare for a Brexit deal (2-4 years transition) and a no deal Brexit “which would not be good news for anyone, so that if necessary we would be ready.
“We will have to be ready to speed up plans. Move from the planning stage to taking action.”
He pointed out that plans will have to be in place for Department of Agriculture and Health inspectors at ports and airports. Plans will also have to be in place for aviation, fisheries and for recognition of standards and quality assurances.
“I still think a no deal Brexit is unlikely, but we have to prepare for it.”
Meanwhile, the European Commission President says there is "no room whatsoever" for any renegotiation of the Brexit deal.
Jean Claude Juncker insists the withdrawal agreement on the table is the "best and only possible deal".
British Prime Minister Theresa May has begun a tour of Europe to try and convince leaders to give some ground on the backstop.
It's after she delayed a crucial House of Commons vote due to the risk of a heavy defeat by MPs.
- Additional reporting Digital Desk