‘Some of you Irish need to get over yourselves’: Sky presenter defends Coveney interview

‘Do you feel slightly guilty?’: Tánaiste questioned over Border assurances

Simon Coveney was asked if the ‘kerfuffle’ over the phase one deal was worth it

Simon Coveney was asked if the ‘kerfuffle’ over the phase one deal was worth it

 

The Sky News presenter who asked Tánaiste Simon Coveney if the “kerfuffle” made by the Government over last week’s Brexit talks was “worth it” has responded to criticism of his question.

A deal reached by European Union and British negotiating teams on Friday set out guarantees on not having a hard border in Ireland. A previous agreement had been reached on Monday, guaranteeing “regulatory alignment” between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This deal broke down following opposition from the DUP.

In the wake of the new agreement being announced, Adam Boulton asked Mr Coveney: “Do you think this week’s kerfuffle has been necessary, I mean do you feel slightly guilty that perhaps the Irish Government over briefed what had been achieved as a victory over the British for the European Union?

“That provoked the DUP and if you had been a bit more straightforward about a practical agreement at the beginning we wouldn’t have had these four days of turmoil.”

The clip received strong criticism on social media, with many criticising Boulton’s question as being “arrogant” and “condescending” in tone.

Boulton defended his interview style in a tweet on Saturday night.

“Bored now. Some of you Irish need to get over yourselves. Interviewing is about challenging the interviewee not respecting,” he tweeted.

‘Find a way forward’

In response to Boulton’s question on Friday, Mr Coveney denied claiming victory over the British government.

“Well, clearly that’s a briefing you’ve been getting from the British side. We never looked for or claimed any victory over anybody,” he said.

“We have been saying for many months now that we want to work with the British government to try and find a way forward that can reassure people in Ireland as well as within the UK that we can manage Brexit and we can limit damage in the way that is now in this agreement. That’s always been our position.

Mr Coveney acknowledged there had been some friction, as “many people have been saying: ‘Look we don’t need and don’t want to give those assurances right now, we’ll deal with these issues in phase two’.

“The Irish Government’s response to that has always been, that, for us, is like a jump into the dark.”

He said: “We don’t know where we’re going to land, we don’t know whether we’re going to have unintended consequences and we need basic reassurance that actually certain things will not happen under any circumstances when we move onto phase two, and one of those issues is the assurance that there will not be a hard border on the island.

“Another is that we will protect the Good Friday Agreement, another today is that we will protect peace funding. Another is that we will protect what’s called the Common Travel Area between Ireland and Britain so that people can move between both countries and live, and work, and study and access social welfare entitlements, and health care and so on.”

Mr Coveney said those aspects of the new deal were “really important, they are part of normal life and the relationship between our two islands, which is a complex one but a deeply interwoven one between Irish and British people”.

“We wanted some guarantees and assurances in phase one before we move onto phase two, so that we could settle some of the concerns that people have and I think we have achieved that by working with the British negotiating team, and others, to make that happen,” he said.