All-Ireland forum on Brexit to take place in November

Gerry Adams says day of action against UK vote will be staged by group in October

An all-Ireland “conversation” about the UK vote to leave the EU will take place in November, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has


Mr Kenny told Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams that business people, members of civic society and political parties would be invited. He would give the Sinn Féin leader and other party leaders details of the forum “in the next short period”.

Mr Kenny said "our intention is to protect this country's vital national interest in these Brexit talks".


He also repeated recent comments he made that he believed British prime minister Theresa May would trigger article 50, to start exit negotiations, at the end of January or February.

He has also asked all Ministers to engage with their Northern Ireland counterparts. He said the Cabinet yesterday noted the 2015 InterTradeIreland report dealing with cross-Border trade and warned the reports for 2016, 2017 and 2018 could be very different.

Mr Adams, however, accused the Taoiseach of “not doing the homework” because he had not given any details of the forum.

Day of action

He said the Taoiseach had promised to establish an all-Ireland forum but Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster opposed such a gathering. Mr Adams said there would be a day of action against Brexit on Sunday, October 9th, organised by a non-political campaign group called Border Communities. The Louth TD encouraged other TDs to attend the event if they could.

Mr Adams said Mr Kenny had stood back from endorsing the vote of the people in the North, a majority of whom opposed leaving the EU. “That is very important because for decades we have been lectured about the need to respect the majority vote in the North.” But Mr Kenny said: “I recognise the voter of Northern Ireland as I recognise the voters of Scotland, Wales and England.”

Composite result

He said that while he did not like the vote, it was a composite result from the UK.

“That is exactly why, in respect of Northern Ireland, we need the voice of Ireland,” he said. “We need the conversation as to what is going to happen in terms of agribusiness North-South, meat, beef, pork producers, industry, financial services, education and health.”

Mr Kenny said there were many people in the North entitled to an Irish passport “who might find themselves in a country that has withdrawn from the EU, having voted in 1998 for their freedom of movement up and down this island at will”.

Later Mr Kenny told party leaders that German chancellor Angela Merkel clearly recognised Ireland’s concerns, “above all the preservation of peace and stability in Northern Ireland, are not only in the interests of Ireland and the UK but of the EU as a whole”.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan expressed concern that the German government diminished the role of the European Commission, which had traditionally been seen as offering protection for smaller states.

Mr Kenny said the commission “will still use its expertise in negotiations but it will be overseen politically by elected leaders”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times