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European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator rules out hard border

Staff Reporter

Reporter:

Staff Reporter

European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator rules out hard border

Pictured at a border farm that straddles the border were (L to R): Arthur Hughes,farmer; Guy Verhofstadt; Independent MEP Marian Harkin and Frank Brady, Chairman, Monaghan IFA.

An MEP representing the north-west has said the solution to Brexit in Ireland must come from both sides of the border.

Marian Harkin, the Midlands-North-West MEP, was speaking after meeting the European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator during a visit to Ireland. Guy Verhofstadt visited Belfast, Monaghan and Dublin.

Mr Verhofstadt said a hard border would be a disaster for everybody.

In Dublin today he was holding talks with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and was addressing a number of Oireachtas joint committees.

Ms Harkin said the former Belgian prime minister learnt that the peace process on the island is ongoing and must be supported.

The visit came ahead of a speech that British prime minister Theresa May is due to make in Florence tomorrow which is expected to provide more clarity on how the negotiations are to continue.

“He is very strong that a hard border is not a runner,” Ms Harkin told the Donegal Democrat.

“His visit to Belfast and the border has been very useful. He is the former Belgian prime minister and he does not see Belfast on the news anymore, therefore, they think all is well. But he realises that this is a peace process, it's not done and dusted, it's not over the line and it needs to be supported. He would not have had an understanding of that until he came here.”

The MEP met Mr Verhofstadt when he visited the border at Co Monaghan where he met locals including representatives of Border Communities Against Brexit. “Mainly he met ordinary people who explained to him the impact that any hard border would have on their lives. Not just their business, although obviously that is part of it, but the views of ordinary people who live along the border. Every person he met yesterday was very strong about no return to a border.

“He is saying we have to find a unique solution to this island. Whatever happens here cannot be a template for elsewhere. This is a different situation, a different place and we need to find a unique solution.He came here to one, to listen to people, and two, to deliver a message that Ireland should not have to suffer because of Brexit.”