STANDING before party colleagues at the Fine Gael conference in Ballyconnell, County Cavan on Saturday, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said there can be no return to a hard Border after Brexit.
Minister Coveney, whose brief includes a responsibility for Brexit for the Irish government, told delegates at the Slieve Russell Hotel that there can be no change to the regulatory or customs rules which would inhibit cross Border trade.
“Britain does not have the right on its own to shape our future as Ireland in the context of the relationship that we have with the United Kingdom,” he warned.
Four miles from the Border with County Fermanagh, Minister Coveney said it is essential “that there is no emergence of regulatory divergence from the the rules of the internal market or the customs unions which are necessary from meaningful North South cooperation, or an all Ireland economy that is consistent with the Good Friday Agreement.”
He said his government’s position on any emergence of a hard Border is “consistent”, “firm” and “stubborn” and called on the British government to provide “credible and real answers” in relation to the Border.
“Brexit is the most important negotiation of our time,” he said.
“It is going to be what shapes our relationship with the European Union and the U.K. We have an interwoven relationship with the U.K. which simply cannot be undone.”
He said a Border of concrete bollards and cars being stopped can never be allowed to re-emerge.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, took time out of the conference to visit Quinn Industrial Holdings a short distance away.
There they heard from Chief Executive Liam McCaffrey and Director John McCartin who explained how the company which spans over 1,000 acres both sides of the Fermanagh/Cavan Border is planning on “mitigating” the impact of Brexit. 
“Notwithstanding these challenges we signalled our optimism about future performance, based on our market position and our experience of operating on a cross Border basis for the past 45 years.
“An Taoiseach was very clued in to the practical implications for all businesses in the area of a hard Border and we were very encouraged that this will be reflected in government efforts to prevent a hard Border at all costs,” Mr. McCaffrey told The Impartial Reporter.