Update: Government denies blocking DUP from receiving text of yesterday's draft Brexit agreement

Update 6.03pm: The Irish government has denied it had any role in blocking the DUP from receiving the text of yesterday's draft Brexit agreement.

The deal which would have given the north special status in line with EU regulations - was scuppered at the last minute following objections from the DUP.

The DUP leader says she only got sight of the draft agreement yesterday morning.

Arlene Foster says the party was given a number of reasons why they were left out of the loop.

She said: "One of those reasons is apparently because the Irish Government wouldn't allow them to share that text and in many ways I can understand that.

"The important thing is once we seen the text, we knew that it would not fly for Northern Ireland or for Scotland because once you start seperating parts of the UK it has other ramifications in other places aswell."

The DUP's last minute intervention scuppered the deal under which the north would continue observing EU regulations.

DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds claims the Irish Government's attempts to avoid a hard border are putting the whole process at risk.

He said: "By continuing its aggressive stance, they are in danger of delivering for themselves, they very outcome that they say they want to avoid."

Update 5.40pm: Government denies blocking DUP from receiving text of yesterday's draft Brexit agreement

The DUP says the government wouldn't allow British Brexit negotiators to release the text of an agreement over the border.

The deal would have given Northern Ireland a special status distinct from the rest of the UK - and was blocked by the DUP at the last moment.

Arlene Foster explained why.

She said: "We had to look at the text, we had to try and understand what the ramification of the text was and when we had a chance to do that we realised, that in no way could we sign up to that text because essentially, it was making a red line down the Irish Sea."

Update 5.11pm: Gerry Adams warns 'Good Friday Agreement will be destroyed' if citizens' rights not protected

Gerry Adams has warned the Good Friday Agreement could be destroyed if citizens' rights are not protected.

EU Commissioners are due to give a recommendation tomorrow on whether Preexist talks can move to the next stage.

A deal was almost done to solve the border issue yesterday, before the DUP pulled the plug.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has warned these talks pose a serious threat to the Good Friday Agreement.

Update 3.30pm: Varadkar tells May 'the ball is in your court' in resolving Brexit border issue

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told Theresa May 'the ball is in your court' in terms of resolving the Brexit border issue.

Mr Varadkar also warned the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that agreement over a border deal will be between the UK government and the European Union - not one political party.

Speaking during leaders questions in the Dail today, the Taoiseach reiterated his "regret" that the UK Government had backed down from a proposal that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should continue to be aligned after Brexit.

The proposed agreement was put on hold after the DUP contacted Theresa May in Brussels when details of the proposal came to light.

Without referring specifically to the DUP, Mr Varadkar said: "There are many political parties in Northern Ireland and we will listen to and respect all political parties in Northern Ireland and recognise that the majority did not vote to leave the European Union."

He added: "This is very important, the negotiations are taking place between a sovereign government, the UK in one hand and the European Union of which we are part.

"The negotiations are not involving one or any political party. This agreement, if we come to it, will not be involving one political party to the exclusion of others."

The Taoiseach said that had the Stormont powersharing Executive not collapsed in January, Northern Ireland would have had a united, cross-community voice in terms of Brexit.

He added that people mistakenly think only one party speaks for the region.

Mr Varadkar admitted that relations between Ireland and the UK "have been strained in the last year or two" because of Brexit.

He added however that he believes Prime Minister Theresa May and her team are "negotiating in good faith".

"I look forward to hearing from them as to how they think we can proceed. The ball is now in London's court," he said.

Earlier today Tánaiste Simon Coveney insisted that the Government would not change its position on the Brexit border deal that was in place on Monday.

Mr Coveney said the Government will work with the British Government on presentational issues around the text which had been agreed on the border, but the core meaning must remain.

He added that while the DUP should be listened to, one political party could not decide what is acceptable and what is not for the British and Irish governments and for the EU negotiators.

Update 3.20pm: Taoiseach admits relations between Ireland and UK 'strained' because of Brexit

The Taoiseach has admitted relations between Ireland and the UK are strained because of Brexit.

Last minute efforts are ongoing to salvage a deal on the border which Leo Varadkar says was agreed yesterday morning.

But the DUP are insisting there will be no deal if it means Northern Ireland is treated differently to the rest of the UK.

In the Dáil earlier Leo Varadkar admitted their relationship with the UK isn't the best right now.

He said: "In terms of relations with the United Kingdom, they were probably at their peak since indepdence around the time of the Queen's visit and the years after that.

"Relations have been strained in the last year or two, not becuase of a decision we made but because of Brexit which is a British policy and a British decision, one that we respect but one that we are very aware causes enormous problems.

While Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin took issue with the suggestion that Brexit talks are being influenced by Republican motivations.

He said: "For me, Brexit is about the economic well-being of all our communities on this island, the bread and butter of daily lives, not an opportunity to persue a united Ireland through polls or anything else as others advocated.

Update 2.24pm: DUP only saw border proposals on Monday morning

The Democratic Unionist Party only received draft proposals on the Irish border from the UK government on Monday morning before deciding they were "clearly unacceptable" and scuppering agreement in Brexit negotiations.

DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds blamed the Irish Government and European Union for the delay in seeing plans the party later rejected, because they would have shifted Northern Ireland's customs border to the Irish Sea.

The move by the DUP dashed Theresa May's hopes of securing agreement on the terms of Britain's EU withdrawal, which included the plan to avoid a hard Irish border.

The British Prime Minister had to break off from talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday for an urgent call with DUP leader Arlene Foster, after she dramatically declared her party's implacable opposition to the plans.

At a Westminster press conference, Mr Dodds revealed that the DUP did not receive the proposals until just before Mrs May's lunch with Mr Juncker.

He said: "Despite several briefings over the course of the last few weeks, we only received written text late yesterday morning.

"We understand this was due in part to delays caused by the Irish Government and the EU negotiating team.

"Upon immediate receipt of that text we indicated to senior Government representatives that it was clearly unacceptable in its current form."

Mr Dodds said the DUP would "work for as long as it's necessary" until the issue was resolved because it is of such "vital importance" to the UK.

He also appeared to suggest the Irish government's "aggressive stance" on avoiding a hard border could scupper negotiations and lead to Britain leaving with no deal, and that hard border may therefore be erected anyway.

"The Prime Minister has said that there will be no border in the Irish Sea, she has made it clear that the UK is leaving the European Union as a whole and that the territorial and economic integrity of the United Kingdom will be protected," he said.

"So we want to see a sensible Brexit, and we will continue to work through the detail of all these issues with the Government today and in the coming days.

"These are issues that are of such vital importance to our nation as a whole that we must work for as long as it's necessary to ensure that they are got right.

"So the DUP does stand strong for the union and we also issue a warning today to the Dublin government - that by continuing its aggressive stance they are in danger of delivering for themselves the very outcomes that they said they want to avoid.

"So now more than ever it's clear that we took the correct view in encouraging people throughout the United Kingdom to vote to leave the European Union."

Mr Dodds stressed the DUP do not want to see a "no deal" Brexit.

"We don't want to see the talks fail and we don't want to see an outcome where there's no deal.

"We want to see a sensible Brexit and we will work through on the basis of the clear red lines we have set down, which are as we understand it the red lines of the Government as well."

Update 1.45pm: Northern Ireland won't be left inside EU to avoid hard border: UK Brexit Secretary

David Davis insisted Northern Ireland would not be "left behind" in the single market and customs union after Brexit as Theresa May worked to get withdrawal negotiations back on track.

UK Prime Minister was telephoning Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill on Tuesday for urgent talks as pressure mounted on her to break the logjam.

David Davis

Mrs May's crunch withdrawal talks with the EU in Brussels on Monday ended without agreement after the DUP refused to accept proposals which would have shifted the North's customs border to the Irish Sea, in order to maintain a soft border with the Ireland.

She is now facing internal demands not to cut separate deals for different parts of the UK, after the leaders of Scotland, Wales and London called for carve-outs to remain in the single market and customs union.

Mr Davis stressed that the idea that the North would be left inside the single market or customs union to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland was a "falsehood".

Answering an urgent question in the House of Commons, the Brexit Secretary said: "The suggestion that we might depart the European Union but leave one part of the United Kingdom behind, still inside the single market and customs union - that is emphatically not something that the UK Government is considering.

"So when the First Minister of Wales complains about it, or the First Minister of Scotland says it's a reason to start banging the tattered drum of independence, or the Mayor of London says it justifies a hard border around the M25 - I say they're making a foolish mistake.

"No UK Government would allow such a thing, let alone a Conservative and Unionist one."

Meeting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Downing Street, Mrs May said: "Our talks with the European Union have made a lot of progress.

"There are still a couple of issues we need to work on, but we'll be reconvening in Brussels later this week as we look ahead to the December European Council.

"But I know in everything we do we want to ensure, particularly, that we recognise the needs of Spanish citizens here in the UK , and UK citizens living in Spain."

Update 1.39pm: Anglo-Irish relations set back by government's Brexit appoach - DUP

Anglo-Irish relations have been set back by the government's "aggressive and anti-unionist" approach in Brexit talks, the DUP has claimed.

Nigel Dodds, the DUP's Westminster leader, warned relationships in the North linked to devolution have also been damaged and said they will "take a long time to repair".

Mr Dodds added his party's approach of seeking to "stand strong for the Union" and the North's place within it should come as no surprise.

His remarks came in the Commons after the DUP refused to accept proposals which would have shifted the North's customs border to the Irish Sea.

Mr Dodds said: "It should come as no surprise that the Dublin and Irish government wishes to advance its interests.

"The way it has gone about it in such an aggressive and anti-unionist way is disgraceful and has set back Anglo-Irish relations and damaged the relationships built up within Northern Ireland in terms of the devolution settlement - and that is going to take a long time to repair.

"Secondly, it should come as no surprise that the Democratic Unionist Party stands strong for the Union, stands strong for Northern Ireland's place within the Union under the terms of the devolved settlement, and we will not allow any settlement to be agreed that causes the divergence politically or economically of Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.

"Because to do so would not only be politically damaging but would be economically catastrophic for everyone in Northern Ireland - unionist, nationalist, Remainer or Brexiteer.

"The reality is that one of the good things that came out of yesterday is that from all sides of this House - Labour, Conservative, backbenchers, Ruth Davidson, Carwyn Jones, everybody - there is now an agreement that the United Kingdom stands together and nothing will happen that will cause the break-up of this great United Kingdom."

Brexit Secretary David Davis replied: "He's dead right. There's no surprise the Democratic Unionist Party stands for the United Kingdom - so does the Conservative and Unionist Party equally."

Update 9.34am: The British Prime Minister is expected to ring DUP leader Arlene Foster later to find an alternative solution to border negotiations.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said it will be hard to find a way through.

"In an act of what I can only describe as absolute recklessness the DUP seem insistent now on a hardening of the border," she said.

"They seem to have turned their face from any rational harmony in dealing with Brexit," she added.

Update 9.25am: Coveney says one political party cannot dictate border issue

The Tánaiste has said one political party cannot be allowed to dictate how the border with the north will look after Brexit.

The Government had reached an agreement with Britain yesterday but it was pulled after the DUP said it wouldn't accept a deal which gave the North a different status to the rest of the UK.

Simon Coveney said today the government would work with Britain on presentational issues but the core text of the document would not change.

"Of course we need to listen to the DUP, they're an important part of Northern Ireland politics," he said.

"But you can't have one political party that decides what's acceptable and what's not for the Irish and British governments and indeed for the EU negotiating team because they happen to hold the balance of power in Westminster," Minister Coveney added.

"That is not a balanced approach to trying to resolve these issues. We have to take account of all political viewpoints on the island of Ireland," he said.

Update 8.12am: 'There isn't a huge amount of time' says Hayes as May is expected to negotiate with DUP

The British Prime Minister is expected to speak to the DUP leader by phone later after a Brexit deal with the EU was blocked at the last minute.

Arlene Foster is insisting Northern Ireland is treated in the same way as the rest of the UK.

There was an agreement with the British government on the border issue yesterday morning, but it was pulled around lunchtime.

As the pressure mounts to move on to stage two of Brexit talks MEP Brian Hayes said there is not much time.

"There isn't a huge amount of time. It has to be done by the very latest by Friday because the European Parliament meets in Strasbourg next week. It must declare a resolution that sufficient progress has been made to allow the council to progress," he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said there is no reason why this can not happen.

"I believe we got a wording that achieved that and we want to ensure that that wording remains intact so that whatever happens we move on to phase two, if we move on to phase two, with the assurance that there is not going to be - under any circumstances - a hard border re-emerging on the island" he said.

"I think we have an obligation to ensure that that's the case," he added.

Earlier: Coveney says it is up to May to negotiate with DUP

The Foreign Affairs Minister has said the government is staying focused on getting the best deal for Ireland after Brexit.

There was an agreement with the British government on the border issue yesterday morning, but it was pulled around lunchtime.

The British Prime Minister asked for more time after the DUP said they would not support anything which saw the North being treated differently to the rest of the UK.

Simon Coveney said it is now up to Theresa May to negotiate with Arlene Foster.

"It is a matter for the British government to manage their side in the negotiations. It certainly isn't our job to manage that or comment on it," Minister Coveney said.

"That's why we have focused on getting Cabinet approval for a wording that we believed could get the job done and also briefing opposition leaders to make sure that we could create a political environment in Ireland on a very, very sensitive issue that would allow us credibly protect Irish interests."


 

Join the conversation - comment here

House Rules for comments - FAQ - Important message for commenters


Most Read in Ireland