Ireland’s premier has welcomed a Brexit trade deal struck between the UK and EU.
Micheal Martin described the accord as “very welcome” following “four long years of negotiations”.
The Taoiseach said he hopes the accord will be approved by both the UK and EU to allow it to be in force by January 1.
In a statement, Mr Martin said his Government will now consider the detail of the text very carefully.
“From what we have heard today, I believe that it represents a good compromise and a balanced outcome,” he said.
“There is no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’ for Ireland.
“But we have worked hard to minimise the negative consequences.
“I believe the agreement reached today is the least bad version of Brexit possible, given current circumstances.
“I know that, more than others, our fishing communities will be disappointed with the outcome.
“But compared with the prospect of ‘no deal’, which would have seen them completely excluded from British waters, the negotiators have worked hard to minimise the damage.
“The Government will work to ensure that the sector and the coastal communities that depend on it are supported through the period ahead.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney warmly welcomed the deal as “protecting” Ireland and the EU through Brexit.
Mr Coveney said a hard border had been prevented and the Northern Ireland peace process protected.
He also welcomed trade arrangements, and added it was a “fresh start” for UK relations.
Sinn Fein president Mary-Lou McDonald urged that planning starts for a “post-Brexit future”.
“There will be relief that a trade deal has now been agreed between Britain and the EU and special arrangements for Ireland, encapsulated in the Irish Protocol, will be implemented,” she said.
“The Good Friday Agreement has been protected, there will be no hardening of the border and protections for the all-island economy are in place.
“There is also a level of certainty for businesses.
“But we are under no illusions that there is no good Brexit for Ireland, north or south, and the full consequences of this are as yet unknown.
“This is not the end of the road.
“EU leaders have accepted the unique position of Ireland and have agreed that the north will automatically become part of the EU in the context of a United Ireland.
“So we need to start the planning and we need to start talking about a future beyond Brexit.”