NORTHERN Ireland could get a 10-mile economic buffer zone with Ireland in a bid to resolve the ongoing dispute over the status of its border after Brexit.
The Department for Exiting the European Union - the British Government department charged with creating a smooth departure from the EU - has suggested giving Northern Ireland joint EU and UK status to avoid created a hard border with Ireland, according to a report in The Sun newspaper.
British negotiators are under pressure to agree a solution to the problem before a summit with their European Union counterparts for the next round of talks on Brexit, which is due to take place on June 28.
Although the Department for Exiting the European Union, led by the Brexit secretary, David Davis, has declined to directly comment on the reports, a spokesman said: “We have set out two viable future customs arrangements with the EU and work is ongoing to refine these.
“Both of these would deliver on our commitments to ensure UK/EU trade is as frictionless as possible, avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, preserve the integrity of the UK’s internal market and enable us to establish an independent international trade policy.”
Martina Anderson, a Sinn Fein MEP, said that the new proposals are not a viable solution and show a lack of knowledge of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
"The latest reports of a new plan on Brexit and the border from David Davis are light on detail and do not take into account the reality of life along the border, particularly in areas such as Derry, Strabane and Newry which are essentially cross-border," she told the Belfast Telegraph.
"Once again this shows the lack of knowledge of border areas and the concerns they face - David Davis obviously didn’t learn much on his flying visits.
"The creation of a buffer zone would merely move the problem away from the border and hide a hard border in a buffer zone."