UK and Ireland pledge security co-operation post-Brexit

James Brokenshire tells ‘Irish Times’ forum UK will not reverse decision to leave EU

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has called Brexit the 'greatest economic and social challenge for this island in 50 years' at the Irish Times Brexit Summit.

 

The Minister for Justice and the Northern Ireland secretary yesterday committed the British and Irish governments to enhancing security co-operation in the wake of Brexit.

Frances Fitzgerald yesterday hosted James Brokenshire for talks in Dublin where the ministers discussed co-operation between the gardaí and the PSNI

In a statement issued after the meeting, a spokesman for the Department of Justice said the ministers discussed the progress made by the Joint Agency Task Force set up after the Stormont Fresh Start agreement to tackle cross-Border crime, including paramilitary crime.

They also reiterated the two governments’ commitments to maintaining the common travel area between Ireland, the North and Britain after the UK leaves the EU.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Brokenshire told an Irish Times conference on Brexit that “it is no good those who dislike or are uncomfortable with the result wishing it away or believing that the UK will somehow wake up in a few months believing it has made a terrible collective mistake and demanding another vote”.

UK exit

The North would proceed to leave the EU, he said. “The United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave the EU,” Mr Brokenshire said, “and it is the United Kingdom as a whole that will leave.

“But in that process we want to ensure that Northern Ireland’s particular and unique interests are protected and advanced.”

Mr Brokenshire stressed that both governments wished to preserve the open Border and the common travel area . He said that the British government was committed to preserving and protecting the principles of the Belfast Agreement.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Mr Brokenshire declined to outline if the British government would seek a special deal for the North, but said it was “obviously being very conscious of our commitments under the Belfast Agreement and subsequent agreements which we certainly are not going to unsettle”.0

He pointed out that the common travel area was already recognised and protected in the Treaty of Amsterdam “giving it that EU grounding already”.

The Taoiseach, who also addressed the conference yesterday, said now was not the time for “some grand new chapter of EU integration, or some European Union ‘moonshot’”.

Negotiation of terms

In the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and as governments and EU institutions prepare to negotiate the terms of the British exit, the union must demonstrate that it can “take sensible positions, implement important decisions, and deliver concrete results for its citizens”, the Taoiseach said.

He was speaking to a capacity audience at the Westin Hotel in Dublin.

The EU, Mr Kenny said, “doesn’t have to define the next great challenges, but it needs to demonstrate that it can respond effectively to them”.

He said that both the Irish and British governments “have agreed” there should be no return to a hard Border and that the benefits of the common travel area between the two countries must be preserved.

Mr Kenny referred to the various models of Britain’s future relationship with the EU, and said that “Britain will want a British solution”.