Bertie Ahern: Dublin and London have wasted 12 months

Former taoiseach says Governments need to agree common border stance

Speaking to Sky News, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has warned that time has been wasted in Brexit negotiations with regard to the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Video: Sky News


Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said a year has been wasted without any progress on what the Irish border would look like post-Brexit.

Responding to suggestions that the Government wants no border between the Republic and the North after Brexit, Mr Ahern said both the British and Irish Governments should have negotiated a common position by now to put to the European Union (EU).

He told Sky News: “That was a mistake on all sides and we need to rectify it. It is now only a few months before we need to rectify it.”

The issue of the border is one that negotiators will only have a number of months to deal with before trade negotiations begin.

Mr Ahern said he was worried that the legal and constitutional issues surrounding the border post-Brexit had not been dealt with in the 13 months since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

“In the year gone by very little has happened on it. I really think we should have been trying to get a hard position negotiated between the Irish and British Government and put that position to Europe over the last 12 months.

“People are going to have spend some of the summer fast-tracking the issues a bit better than they have been for the last 12 months. I really worry that the issue has not been examined to the extent that is required.”

To date attention has been focused on the possibility of electronic monitoring of the border which would ensure that traffic north and south would continue to flow freely between both jurisdictions.

Reports that Dublin does not want even a “soft” border between north and south and instead want the Irish Sea as a border emerged this morning, but Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said there were no such plans.

Earlier this month in Cavan, Mr Ahern said it was “absolutely extraordinary” that no meetings had taken place between the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive over Brexit.

“They need to be working together, to work through the problems that are going to massively affect the whole island but in particular the people of Northern Ireland, ” he told a Brexit meeting in Co Cavan.

He called on politicians in Northern Ireland to break the Stormont deadlock and “get back to doing the job they are paid for and elected to do.”

Urging Northern Ireland politicians to find a way to restore the Executive and the Stormont Assembly, Mr Ahern, who helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement, said it saddened him to see the power-sharing institutions at a logjam and appealed to political leaders to find “necessary compromises.”