I think it is possible
for us to come to an agreement,
to have a treaty, agreed to allow the
UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion
and have that done by the end of October,
but there is many a slip between cup and lip and lots of things
that are not in my control. I’m sure you appreciate
that this is a very sensitive issue and
we’re at a very sensitive stage at the moment.
So, I won’t be able to go into too much detail.
I think sometimes at this point in negotiations
or discussions, the less said, the better.
But what I can say is that I had a very good meeting
today with the Prime minister and our teams together.
Very positive, and very promising.
I am now absolutely convinced that both
Ireland and Britain want there to be an agreement
that’s in the interests of Ireland and the United Kingdom
and the European Union as a whole
and I do see a pathway towards an
agreement in the coming weeks. There are of course
issues yet to be fully resolved.
The first is the issue of consent and democracy
ensuring that any long-term arrangement that
applies to Northern Ireland has the consent of
the people of Northern Ireland. The second is
the whole issue of customs ensuring that there
is not customs border between north and south,
and also with a good discussion
looking forward to how relationships might look
after Brexit. How we can strengthen
cooperation north and south, economically and politically,
and also between Britain and Ireland.
You know in terms of how long it will take,
I can’t predict that with any certainty.
But I think all sides would like there to be
an agreement next week at the Council,
if possible. And obviously there is
a further deadline after that, which is the 31st of October.
So I would say a short pathway rather
than a long one. But it’s impossible to predict
that for sure. You know in terms of
concessions, I don’t think this should be seen
in the context of who’s making concessions
or who the winners and losers are, I don’t think that’s the
game any of us want to play. What this is about is
securing an agreement that works for the people
of Ireland and also for the people of Britain and Europe.
And if it works, for the people of Ireland, what it means is
avoiding a hard border between north and south, that’s always
been our primary objective, ensuring that the whole island economy
can continue to develop that north-south cooperation
as envisioned by the Good Friday agreement can resume.
Those are our objectives and this has always been about achieving
those objectives and I think today they can be achieved.