Bertie Ahern says Ireland has ‘missed boat’ on Brexit

Former taoiseach warns that Ireland is facing into a period of great difficulty

 

Ireland has “missed the boat” in failing to engage with the UK directly before Brexit negotiations with the EU negotiator Michel Barnier began, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern said last night .

Mr Ahern’s comments came ahead of a packed public meeting on Brexit in Co Cavan.

“For the next year it is left to trying to influence him, and his team. That’s the challenge we face as a country,” he said.

Mr Ahern warned that Ireland is facing into a period of great difficulty, through which “we have to try to protect our interests”.

“We are a small island in a big bowl, but we have to fight for every inch,” he said.

Difference in attendance

With standing room only available at the Hotel Kilmore, Cavan-Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith said the marked difference in attendance compared to a similar event he hosted two years ago was down to the “penny dropping” for many people on the potential ramifications of Brexit.

Mr Smith said: “People living in this region have enjoyed free movement across the Border as a direct result of the peace process and it is vitally important these freedoms for the country, for business and communities, are maintained.”

Also speaking at the Brexit discussion were Ruth Tallon of the Centre for Cross-Border Studies, Katie Daughen of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, Lorraine Higgins of Retail Excellence Ireland and Paul Kelly of Food/Drink Ireland.