Northern Ireland news

President Michael D Higgins voices Brexit concerns

President Michael D Higgins has voiced concern about Brexit
Connla Young

President Michael D Higgins has voiced concern about the direction of Brexit negotiations.

The president, who was speaking at a State of the Union meeting in Florence, said the consequences of Britain leaving the European Union had not been properly thought through.

"They appear to move towards points of common understanding at a certain level, and then to resile from that when it comes back to the component parts on each side,” he said.

"People accepted the democratic will of the British people but the consequences of the decision were not very forethought, therefore frankly what is being proposed suffers from that."

President Higgins questioned whether key deadlines can now be met.

"The discourse is rumbling along, but it has a terminal point and you come to a point where you have to decide whether you can complete the Article 50 process within the timeframe that has been allocated,” he said.

Meanwhile Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney has said Ireland's approach to Brexit has remained very clear and acknowledged that there has been confusion on the UK side.

He was speaking in London where he met with British cabinet ministers.

He said he wanted to see of there was any flexibility from the London government on outstanding issues and suggested there needs to be genuine engagement before an EU Council meeting in June.

The minister that in order to meet that deadline there needs to be clarity from the British on what they want.

He added that progress needs to be made on the border question in order to ensure there is no hard border of any kind on the island.

He revealed he had a "good and straight talking" meeting with Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, while he also met with Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington.

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