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Taoiseach more ‘hopeful’ today that trade deal will be done

Mr Martin said it is a ‘good sign’ talks are continuing in Brussels.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he is more hopeful today that a free trade Brexit agreement will be made, than last week.

Mr Martin said it is a “good sign” talks are continuing in Brussels.

He told the Dail it is important that the UK and EU negotiating teams concentrate on getting a trade deal.

“It gives me greater hope than I had last week that potentially a resolution can be found to the very difficult and challenging issues of a level playing field, fisheries and a dispute mechanism to deal with that,” he told the Dail.

“My focus and view of that at the moment is that it’s important that both get it right and that they concentrate on getting a deal.

“Then subsequent to that, if they can get a deal over the line it’s a matter for member states to work out how we deal with that procedure.”

He added: “The news last week of a conclusion to the negotiation to the protocol and the withdrawal agreement was very good news. Both sides deserve credit on the constructive way that they engaged and indications were good.

“It’s important in terms of the experience in a post-Brexit Ireland, that the agreement is signed off.”

For months the talks have been deadlocked on the issues of fishing rights, the “level playing field” to ensure neither side can unfairly compete with the other on environmental standards, workers’ rights or state subsidies, and the legal mechanisms to govern any deal.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the motivation to get a deal is the cost of failure.

He said the outstanding issues are “difficult to resolve” and that both sides have strong views on the sticking points.

He added, however that he is optimistic a deal is possible.

“Some people accuse me of being too positive about that. I maintain that it makes no political sense and it certainly doesn’t make economic sense for the EU and the UK not to have a future relationship agreement in place,” he added.

The motivation here, given the cost of failure, is to get a deal done Simon Coveney

“All of the disruption that would cause to economies, to political relationships, and to so many of the sectors that would be impacted by that.

“The motivation here, given the cost of failure, is to get a deal done.

“The two key issues is fair competition and a level playing field around that and in the future is a really difficult issue to resolve.

“Both sides have very strong views and that needs to be addressed.”

He said that some progress is being made in the areas around fishing.

“It’s a very different issue but difficult to resolve as it is highly emotive and highly political,” he added.

“Within the UK it is linked to the expression of sovereignty that comes with Brexit. Neither of these two remaining obstacles are easy to resolve but you can take it that because the negotiating teams have gone really quiet here, there are no briefings out to the media, that’s an indication to me that there is a serious, if difficult negotiation continuing.

“I am still hopeful that can result in a successful agreement but we have to be ready for both outcomes.”

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