Brexit cannot undermine the hard-won gains of the Northern Ireland peace process, Ireland’s deputy PM has said.
On a trip to the US, which will include meetings with officials from President Donald Trump’s administration, Simon Coveney said a strategic objective of the Brexit negotiations for Ireland was the creation of the closest possible future connection between the European Union and the UK.
He said that it was in the EU’s interests and overwhelmingingly in Ireland’s interests to have a confident and co-operative UK on its doorstep.
“The other key strategic objective for us is to ensure that the outcome of Brexit does not in any way undermine the hard-won gains of the peace process, as exemplified by the Good Friday Agreement,” Mr Coveney said.
“The EU, and of course the US, played a pivotal role in this achievement, together with the British and Irish governments. And the agreement was endorsed by huge majorities in Northern Ireland and in Ireland.
“We therefore all share the same goal of protecting the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the peace process.”
Mr Coveney said if the UK is to enjoy the best possible relationship with the EU post Brexit, the UK’s regulatory rules and structures will need to be closely aligned with those of the EU.
But he added: “Being outside cannot be the same as being inside.”