The President of Germany has issued a strong defence of the Withdrawal Agreement, vowing that Ireland has Germany's "full solidarity" and that "on no account" must Brexit be allowed to "re-open the scars of the past" in Ireland.

Addressing a state dinner in honour of President Michael D Higgins in Berlin last night, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "Politically and economically, Ireland is more directly affected by Brexit than any other EU member state.

"For this reason, too, your country has our full solidarity. We have reiterated this pledge in recent months: Germany stands firmly by Ireland’s side."

Referring to President Higgins' State visit to London in 2014, which had "garnered much approval" in Germany, President Steinmeier said: "And yet the scars of the past have not yet fully healed.

"On no account must the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union be allowed to reopen these old wounds."

President Steinmeier said that any solution to the Northern Ireland border question would have to underpin, and not undermine, the Good Friday Agreement.

"What it will not involve is barriers, customs duties and trade barriers."

He told invited guests at the Schloss Bellevue residence last night: "Here, Ireland’s concerns are also our concerns."

He added: "The European Union's value and internal cohesion have rarely been so plain as during the withdrawal negotiations. Ireland is part of this Union. And Ireland’s core interests are will remain the EU’s core interests.

"This applies particularly to the Northern Ireland peace process.  We are aware of the great achievements there have been in building reconciliation since the Good Friday Agreement. 

"We want to strengthen you in your endeavours to find a solution for the border which will underpin, rather than undermine the peace process."

President Steinmeier told guests: "The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the United Kingdom protects the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement.

"All EU member states have clearly stated that renegotiation is not an option.  We just have to hope that the new government in London realises that too.