Ireland wants Britain to remain central part of EU, says Kenny

Cameron and Kenny express determination to implement NI Stormont House Agreement

British prime minister David Cameron greets Taoiseach Enda Kenny outside 10 Downing street on Thursday for a bilateral meeting. Photograph: EPA

British prime minister David Cameron greets Taoiseach Enda Kenny outside 10 Downing street on Thursday for a bilateral meeting. Photograph: EPA


The Government’s strong view is that Britain must remain a central part of the European Union, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the British prime minister.

The British referendum on EU membership in 2017 and the possibility of a UK exit were the dominant themes of yesterday’s meeting between Mr Kenny and David Cameron in Downing Street.

The 90-minute lunchtime meeting was the first since Mr Cameron was reelected in May.

Both leaders prefaced their remarks afterwards with expressions of sympathy for the six Irish people who lost their lives in Berkeley, California.

They told a news conference there was also a detailed discussion about Northern Ireland. They emphasised the need for the Stormont House Agreement to be fully implemented.

Mr Kenny said they had also discussed “legacy issues” such as the Ballymurphy massacre in which 11 Catholic people were killed over two days in 1971, the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane and the Kingsmill massacre where 11 Protestants were lined up and shot dead by Republicans in 1976.

On the possibility of Britain leaving the EU, Mr Kenny said: “It is our view it is important that the UK remains an active member of EU. It is in Ireland’s interest and the EU’s interest that Britain remains a central part of the EU.”

Asked about the impact the referendum would have on Ireland, Mr Kenny said the exercise Mr Cameron was conducting in meeting all European leaders was a very useful one and some of the reforms and changes being discussed were in the interests of everybody.

However, he said Ireland wanted the referendum to be carried. As far as he was concerned, the future of everybody was in the EU. Mr Cameron said it was right to have the referendum from Britain’s point of view. “We have not had a say on Europe since 1975,” he said. “I want people to stay in a reformed EU.”

He said he wanted to ensure the EU was changed so it worked for countries within the eurozone, but also for countries not in it, such as Britain.

Mr Cameron said the situation in Northern Ireland was serious. “It is vital that Northern Ireland leaders deliver on their side of the deal to give a bright future.”

Mr Kenny said both governments would continue to support the Northern Ireland parties as they tried to resolve the impasse. On the Kingsmill Massacre, he said the Government was trying to give as much information as possible to the coroner examining the case.

Earlier, Mr Kenny visited the Irish Women’s Survivors Support Network office in Kentish town, where he met survivors of the Magdalen Laundries, some for the first time since he issued a formal State apology to the women in an emotional speech in the Dáil in 2012

The Whispering Hope project has helped British-based survivors. A total of 76 women have used its services to access the Government-sponsored restorative justice and recompense schemes.

The driving force behind the campaign for 15 years has been Cllr Sally Mulready and Phyllis Morgan.

Ms Mulready said the project has been highly successful and many of the women were now at a stage where they wanted to move forward.

“They owe it to their children and grandchildren to move forward. The focus is on reconciliation and – it’s an old-fashioned word but an important one – forgiveness.”

She said Mr Kenny’s apology to the Dáil had removed the stigma carried by many of the Magdalen survivors.

Talking to the group Mr Kenny recalled his four-hour meeting with the women in the Irish embassy in London four years ago. He referred specifically to the women singing the song Whispering Hope to him.

“One of the most powerful impacts in my career in politics has been when I met with you that day [and] the singing of Whispering Hope,” he said.