Taoiseach takes lead on rolling Brexit concerns

Kenny statement due and forum to follow as ‘inevitability’ of hard Border permeates debate

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it would be difficult to assess what kind of Border would result as a consequence of Brexit.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it would be difficult to assess what kind of Border would result as a consequence of Brexit.

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to make a Brexit statement on Wednesday week and hold a second all-island forum that weekend.

During Dáil questions on the type of post-Brexit Border that would be in place, Mr Kenny said it would depend on what kind of customs union membership the UK wanted.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said a hard Border was now inevitable and no amount of “bonhomie” between the Taoiseach and the British prime minister would change that.

He said it was time to accept that inevitability and to work on that basis.

But Mr Kenny said it would be difficult to assess what kind of Border would result until British prime minister Theresa May decided if she wanted a completely new customs union agreement, associate membership of the union or to be a signatory to some elements of the customs union.

He insisted he did not want to see “personnel with caps outside Dundalk and outside Newry”. That would be a very negative image, he said.

Special status

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams reiterated his view that Northern Ireland should have special status within the EU. It was not enough to join the British prime minister in “meaningless soundbites” of a friction-less Border. Mr Adams said that was “stuff and nonsense”.

There was a need to ensure that the land frontier was not on the island of Ireland, but in Britain.

Mr Adams also took aim at People Before Profit (PBP) who he said should have considered all the issues before they sided with Ukip and the DUP to support Britain’s exit from the EU.

PBP has two seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly, one of which it won from Sinn Féin in west Belfast.

AAA-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett hit back and said Sinn Féin had joined the DUP and the other parties including the Tories to accept the loss of 20,000 civil service jobs in Northern Ireland, similar to what the troika imposed in the south, which he said had proven disastrous.

Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton said there should be special status for the island of Ireland, North and South in a post-Brexit scenario, because it would be the most affected EU member state.

Ms Burton told the Taoiseach he would be one of the 27 leaders making the final decision on the Brexit agreement.

“You’ll be on your own”, probably allowed one senior diplomat “in the vicinity and that’s not good enough”.

National interests

The Dublin West TD said there were alliances across the EU including the Franco-German alliance and that should be permitted in Ireland’s case.

She added that in diplomatic talk “countries don’t have friends, they have interests”.

Ireland’s primary interest should be a special status for the island of Ireland.

The Taoiseach reiterated that chief negotiator Michel Bernier was well aware of the primacy attached to Northern Ireland.

He said he would be visiting Poland this week and would have talks with the Polish prime minister and had been in Malta last Friday where he had discussions with the Maltese prime minister.

The Taoiseach said he would visit each of the heads of government to explain to them just how crucial the issue was to Ireland.