A deal announced between the EU and the British government allows for a form of special status for the North of Ireland in regard to single-market regulations, customs and VAT, following a transition period and subject to periodic consent being granted by the Stormont Assembly. The following is a round-up of quotes and statements ahead of a vote on the deal at the Westminster Parliament.
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar:
“What I can say today is our objectives for Ireland and for Europe have been met.
“Citizens rights are protected – those European citizens living in the UK and also UK citizens living in the European Union.
“We have the financial settlement, there’ll be no hard border, the all-island economy will continue to develop and North-South co-operation as envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement can resume and continue.”
“The queen will still be the queen, the pound will still be the pound, people will still post letters in Royal Mail red letter boxes.
“Northern Ireland will still be part of the United Kingdom and because of the Good Friday [Belfast] Agreement, that is protected until such a time, should that time ever arise, when the majority of the people in Northern Ireland vote otherwise.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson:
“We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control — now Parliament should get Brexit done on Saturday so we can move on to other priorities like the cost of living, the NHS, violent crime and our environment.”
“It busts out of [the] backstop, the previous problem with the deal, the previous deal that kept us locked in the customs union and the single market so, it’s a vast, vast, vast step forward.”
“There’s no better outcome than the one I’m advocating tomorrow. I just kind of invite everybody to imagine what it could be like tomorrow evening, if we have settled this, and we have respected the will of the people, because we will then have a chance to to move on.”
President of Sinn Fein, Mary Lou McDonald:
“I welcome the fact that an agreement has been reached.
“I am satisfied following a meeting with An Tanaiste Simon Coveney, that there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland and no veto will be given to the DUP.
“It is important to note that there is no such thing as a good Brexit. Ireland did not consent to Brexit. It is being foisted on the north of Ireland against the democratic wishes of the people.
“As a party, Sinn Féin has worked to defend Irish interests from the worst impacts of Brexit.
“It was Sinn Féin who first made the case for a ‘designated special status for the north within the EU’ and it was Sinn Féin who insisted on the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and no hard border on the island of Ireland as bottom lines.
“Any deal can only mitigate the worst effects of Brexit; a least worst option.
“The ultimate solution to the problems Brexit poses for the island is Irish unity. We want that conversation to start now.”
“Following confirmation from the Prime Minister that he believes he has secured a ‘great new deal’ with the European Union, the Democratic Unionist Party will be unable to support these proposals in Parliament.
The Democratic Unionist Party has worked since the referendum result to secure a negotiated deal as we leave the European Union. We have been consistent that we will only ever consider supporting arrangements that are in Northern Ireland’s long-term economic and constitutional interests and protect the integrity of the Union.
These proposals are not, in our view, beneficial to the economic well-being of Northern Ireland and they undermine the integrity of the Union.”
“These arrangements will become the settled position in these areas for Northern Ireland. This drives a coach and horses through the professed sanctity of the Belfast Agreement.
“For all of these reasons it is our view that these arrangements would not be in Northern Ireland’s long term interests. Saturday’s vote in Parliament on the proposals will only be the start of a long process to get any Withdrawal Agreement Bill through the House of Commons.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood:
“The Brexit deal agreed this morning confirms our long stated position that there is no such thing as a good Brexit – only degrees of harm caused to economic and political stability on this island.
“This deal does however meet the minimum requirements to avoid a hard border and the introduction of customs or regulatory checks across this island. That is welcome and EU negotiators have obviously worked very hard to defend our interests. If the choice is between this deal or no deal, then the interests of people here must be defended.
“I would urge the DUP to think very carefully about what happens next. Opposing the deal in the absolute terms they have suggested could mean a no-deal Brexit that would devastate businesses, people and communities across this island, particularly in the farming and agricultural sector. If they don’t like what’s on the table, then maybe they shouldn’t back Brexit at all.”
“Regardless of what the imperialist carve up of Ireland, the British border remains as an obstacle to the Irish people having real democracy and national self-determination.
“The Irish people have had no say in the Brexit process, it has been the competing imperialist powers of London and Brussels that have decided what happens in Ireland.
“Rest assured what ever the outcome of Brexit the socioeconomic objectives of the elites will remain the same and in Ireland that status quo means partition, poverty, homelessness, evictions, privatisation of utilities, hollowing out of health care and the theft of our natural resources.
“Only a United Socialist Ireland can deliver the ownership of Ireland for the people of Ireland and it is towards that goal that Saoradh will continue to struggle.”