Republic's culture minister remains hopeful May can strike deal with Europe

A toy boat held aloft by anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray outside Parliament in Westminster, London Picture by Yui Mok/PA
Cate McCurry

THE REPUBLIC'S culture minister has said she remains hopeful a deal can be struck between the British government and the European Union.

Josepha Madigan said it is difficult to anticipate what will happen when MPs go to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement at Westminster next week.

Theresa May will increase her efforts this week to win over her Brexit critics and seek fresh guarantees from Brussels ahead of the crunch vote on her deal.

Ms Madigan said that the prime minister's main priority is to secure enough support for her deal.

"I think from listening to her comments yesterday (Sunday) she is certainly going to endeavour to do that and that's her main priority at the moment but I think we have to allow the UK Parliament to do it themselves," she said.

"I don't think it's going to be helpful for me to comment on how they should do that but obviously we are hopeful that they will."

The culture minister added she "didn't know" if there will be a hard Brexit.

"I would remain hopeful that a deal can be struck and we hope that Theresa May will get this deal through her Parliament and there will be a Withdrawal Agreement and then a future relationship can be ironed out and there will be no hard border," Ms Madigan said.

"I think at this stage it will be premature to try to say anything other than that."

She added that the Dublin government has contingency plans in place for a no-deal Brexit while ministers will be updating Cabinet every two weeks on their preparation for a chaotic Brexit.

Meanwhile, the minister also defended her comments after she advised aspiring female politicians who want to run for office to "get a good husband" if they do.

She told the Irish Independent: "Get good childcare, get a good husband, have the confidence and don't over-think it."

However, Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitt said that women don't need a husband to succeed in politics.

Ms Madigan defended her remarks saying she was paying tribute to her husband.

"When you're a politician whatever family support you have is going to be crucial," she said.

"When you have school runs and extra-curricular activities and if you are based at Leinster House, I would have found it very difficult in the absence of his support and that was the point I am making.

"You need a support system and I think every politician would say that. It doesn't necessarily have to be a husband, it can be a partner, or wife, or mother or father or neighbours but I think you need the support particularly if you have dependants living with you."

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