Ireland's Coveney says breakthrough on Brexit border issue 'doable' by December summit

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What to do about the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is emerging as the main sticking point that could prevent talks about Britain's departure from the European Union moving on to the next phase.

The research conducted by the committee echoes concerns raised by the Irish government in relation to the border.

"We do not now see how it will be possible to reconcile there being no border with the Government's policy of leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, which will inevitably make the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland the EU's customs border with the United Kingdom". Owen Bennett Jones has been discussing the issue with the British MP, Crispin Blunt, and Radek Sikorski, the former Foreign Minister of Poland.

But any attempt at a solution will have to convince Northern Ireland's pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 members of parliament are propping up May's government. "In the end, people are going to have to make a choice because if we're not in the Customs Union and the Single Market and heaven-forbid we don't get a trade deal, then that border will become the external border of the 27 EU member states with a third country which is what the United Kingdom will be", he said.

The DUP yesterday warned that allowing Northern Ireland to remain in the single market alone would be "deeply destablising" to the coalition agreement.

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Efforts to reach a deal are to intensify with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to hold talks with European Council President Donald Tusk in Dublin tomorrow.

DUP Party officials have suggested they view convergence as tantamount to keeping Northern Ireland within the customs union - thus creating a new unofficial border between Northern Ireland and the UK.

The Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has said without an assurance on the border issue, European Union leaders will not allow the Brexit talks to proceed to the next stage.

With significant progress on the financial settlement and citizen rights, a deal on the Irish border would pave the way for Brussels to offer British Prime Minister Theresa May a transition deal as early as January.

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