Ireland's foreign minister has welcomed the UK's Brexit White Paper and described it as "a step towards a much softer Brexit".

Simon Coveney said that while the paper had some contradictions, the UK had now taken a "much more credible" position.

He also called for it to be given a fair assessment.

"I don't think we should be going through the White Paper and trying to undermine it and trying to find inconsistencies," he said.

However he acknowledged that the UK proposal that it should have privileged access to the UK single market for goods while ending free movement of people would raise difficulties.

"I don't believe that Michel Barnier will, or will be allowed to, compromise the functioning of the single market or to compromise the functioning of a common customs union.

"So that I think will be the real challenge for the negotiating teams over the summer," he added.

"But nobody said this was going to be easy."