Ireland, UK close to sealing Brexit deal, they say

Britain and Ireland said on Friday they are close to securing a deal on the post-Brexit border with Northern Ireland.

Senior ministers from both governments met in Dublin to discuss their future relationship, even visiting the currently-open border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

"I think we're very close to resolving it, I certainly hope we are," Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said at a press conference.

British Cabinet Office minister David Lidington said "We're certainly, as Simon says, very close to resolving it."

Lidington said negotiations in Brussels now need to "continue and intensify further."

Read more: Brexit drags up Northern Ireland's dark past

But neither party offered a vision of how they plan to resolve the impasse. Both countries agree there should be no border or customs barriers between the two Irelands that could undermine the hard-won peace.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, also present at Friday's meetings, said Britain "will not accept any Brexit proposals that threaten the economic or constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom."

Outcome of the meeting? More meetings.

What they did agree on was to have regular, high-level meetings between the two countries.

Mary-Lou McDonald, who leads the left-wing nationalist party Sinn Fein, said Raab was "simply going through the motions" rather than seeking a solution.

"We need to act in a responsible way, in a way that recognizes the real jeopardy and damage that Brexit can and will do to our economy, potentially to our peace agreements," she said.

Read more: Brexit causing concern for business on both sides of the Irish border

Meanwhile the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up the Conservative British government, repeated its rejection of any deal that would introduce a customs and regulatory check between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

"Northern Ireland must not be carved into an arrangement which undermines the constitutional or economic integrity of the United Kingdom," DUP leader Arlene Foster said.

aw/bw (AP, AFP, Reuters)