DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland is open to the possibility of an alternative "backstop" deal between Britain and the EU to prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland so long as it is better than the EU's current proposal and is legally operable, its finance minister said.

"The Irish government is very clear that the Irish backstop must be retained for any future agreement between the EU and the UK to be put in place," Paschal Donohoe told RTE radio on Friday.

"The only thing that could replace this current form of a backstop is, No. 1 something which is better; No. 2 something which is agreed and No. 3 something that would be legally operable. This is the view of the Irish government and the European Union."

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Alison Williams)

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