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Ireland rejects the Canada-US border model

A Sinn Féin delegation travelled to Brussels yesterday for talks with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
Following the meeting, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said she raised the "continued frustration" at the lack of clarity on solutions for the Irish border.

"The draft European Union legal text was not a faithful or indeed fair legal interpretation of the joint report from December", Foster told journalists following the Barnier meeting adding that she was ready to explore "imaginative and flexible solutions", in the coming months.

That second promise was left out of the European Union's draft withdrawal text, published last week, prompting outrage in the United Kingdom.

Pointing to the need for any policy to comply with the Good Friday Agreement, he told reporters: "These proposals drive a coach and horses through the principle of consent".

The draft text includes a "backstop option" which states if no solutions are found, a common regulatory zone would be established which would leave Northern Ireland within the EU's customs territory. The only way to avoid this post-Brexit is for regulations on both sides to remain more or less the same in key areas including food, animal welfare, medicines and product safety.

But he said the company would continue to operate in the United Kingdom, including its Dagenham plant "as long as it remains competitive".

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"I am happy to say we have a shared understanding that there can not be a withdrawal agreement, much less an agreement on any future relationship between Britain and the European Union, in the absence of an answer to the Irish question", Mrs McDonald said. Placing a border down the Irish Sea would not just be politically unacceptable but would be economically catastrophic.

"Greater flexibility needs to be shown by those in Brussels on the issue of the border".

Describing her talk with Mr Barnier as "good and very open", she insisted the text has "omissions in it" and said it "also overreaches in other areas".

He has said that it is incumbent on anyone who is unhappy with the draft text to bring forward legally enforceable alternatives. Sorry, the European Union does not have the right to go into the Belfast Agreement in that fashion.

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