No proposal has been made for a sea border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit, the Irish foreign minister has said.
A newspaper report on Friday suggested that the taoiseach (Irish prime minister) wants customs and immigration checks at ports on mainland Britain after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The Democratic Unionist Party rejected that idea, describing it as “madness”.
But Simon Coveney denied that the Irish government preferred that option.
“There is no proposal that is suggesting that there be a border in the Irish Sea,” he told Irish national broadcaster RTÉ.
He sad the onus was on the UK to “come up with imaginative and if necessary unique solutions” to avoiding a so-called hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
Mr Coveney added that a political solution was required, rather than a technical fix, which has been suggested by Brexit Secretary David Davis.
The Irish government will not support proposals that result in checkpoints along the border, he said.
The Irish border is one of the key issues that needs to be resolved by the UK and the EU before talks begin on a new trade deal.
Mr Davis has proposed using measures like surveillance cameras to allow free movement between the north and south of the island.
‘Needs reality check’
The Times reported that the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is said to be “unconvinced” by the UK’s plans to introduce a “high-tech land border”.
Sources told the paper that Mr Varadkar thinks a land border would jeopardise the peace process.
DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the taoiseach “needs to get a reality check” because any suggestion of a border in the Irish Sea is “just madness”.
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“That’s just not going to happen,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“There is no way that the DUP would go for an option that put a border between one part of the UK and another.
“That would be a bit like saying we’re going to create a border between California and the rest of the USA.
“I think what Dublin needs to think about is innovative ways in which it can move its market closer to the UK.”
Sir Jeffrey claimed that 65% of goods exported by the Republic of Ireland go to the UK.
But that figure is incorrect: exports to the UK amounted to 13.96% of trade in 2015, according to UN Comtrade figures.
He also rejected the idea that a land border would encourage terrorism, saying that to suggest that would be “dangerous”.