Lucinda Creighton, former Irish Minister for European Affairs, argued that a series of Brexit redlines held by the EU, UK and DUP has caused a stalemate in the debate to find an Irish border solution.
She said: “I think it is borne out by the fact that both the UK Government and the Irish government are really gearing up their preparations for no-deal.
“There is a lot of pessimism around because you have basically mutually exclusive hardline positions.
“You obviously have the determination by the Irish government and the EU by extension, to maintain a seamless and borderless existence between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
“Which of course would mean essentially the territory of Northern Ireland, if not the rest of the UK, remaining in the single market and effectively operating within the customs union.
“Obviously the commitment of those who campaigned for Brexit and those who are still advocating a very clean break from the EU who will not countenance the UK as a whole staying in the single market or effectively within the customs union.
“Then in the middleMinister you have the position of the DUP in Northern Ireland who will not allow the territory of Northern Ireland to be in anyway treated differently or separately to the rest of the UK.”
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has called for a de-dramatisation of the Northern Irish border issue.
Speaking in Brussels alongside Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, he said: “Last week our teams already had discussions on the island of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“As you know, we need a legally operational backstop in the withdrawal agreement.
“We must find pragmatic solutions in line with the commitments made by Prime Minister May in December and March, and we must de-dramatise the issue and spell out which controls Minister where and how this should be done.”
Mr Raab said he would meet with Mr Barnier again next week as the intensity of negotiations is increased, to resolve outstanding issues “at the political level”.
The Brexit Secretary said: “There are still some significant issues to overcome – yes on Northern Ireland, I think we both recognise that – but also on the future relationship.
“It’s important to view the whole deal as a package. We agreed that we need to step up the intensity of the negotiations as we come into the final phase and we have agreed to meet regularly and resolve at the political level those outstanding issues that remain under technical consideration.”