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Friday 28 April 2017

'There will not be a hard border with the North', says Kenny as May maps out plan for Britain's future

A delivery van passes a Brexit billboard in Jonesborough, Co. Armagh
A delivery van passes a Brexit billboard in Jonesborough, Co. Armagh

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted there will be no return of a hard border with the North as the British Prime Minister laid out her plans for leaving the EU.

Mr Kenny moved to ease concerns after Theresa May made a landmark speech outlining Britain's post-Brexit future.

Mrs May said that Britain will leave the European single market, but stressed that the Common Travel Area with Ireland would be preserved.

Mr Kenny said he has no reason to believe the Common Travel Area is under threat.

"We agreed when I went to Downing Street before that we will preserve the Common Travel Area.

Seamless

"That's something we want and will preserve. It doesn't just mean travelling for social reasons; Irish people travel to Britain and British people travel to Ireland, not just travel but also for work," Mr Kenny told RTE News.

"There'll be no return to the hard border which I call it, or as she says the borders of the past where there were customs post every 100 yards, we want a preservation of the seamless border that's there now."

Mrs May has signalled that Britain will not be looking for associate membership of the EU.

Mr Kenny said it had brought some clarity to the issue following the referendum vote last June.

"Well this is part of the journey that began on June 23 with the referendum and the Prime Minister declaring that Article 50 would be triggered by the end of March," he said.

"And then all of the conversation and confusion looking for clarity, so now the speech from the prime minister has brought clarity and some measure for what Britain is looking for in its new relationship with the European Union in the future."

However, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said Ireland should be wary of the difficult road that lies ahead.

"Britain is speaking softly but behaving and acting differently," said Mr Martin.

"I get a real sense we are heading down a very difficult road and hence the need for Ireland to argue robustly now to protect our interests, our jobs and companies." He said Mrs May's Brexit speech was disappointing and contained very little about Irish concerns.

"There is no mention of any special status from Northern Ireland, for example. In fact, it is going in the opposite direction."

Meanwhile, the party's jobs spokesperson, Niall Collins, said it is time for Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor to act.

"At the end of the day, the hard Brexit strategy being pursued by the British Government is very bad news for Irish jobs and all businesses who export to Britain," he said.

"At Government level, Minister Mitchell O'Connor, as the senior minister responsible for jobs and enterprise must immediately look at introducing transitional aid measures for enterprises impacted by the fallout from Brexit and currency fluctuations between the Euro and Sterling.

Commit

"Minister Mitchell O'Connor must immediately get government approval for transitional aid measures to safeguard Irish export jobs and businesses.

"The time for talking is over. Immediate enterprise stabilisation measures must be introduced and the Minister should commit to leading on this."

Earlier, a Government spokesperson said that Ireland will "vigorously pursue" businesses and EU agencies to attract them to Dublin.

"The Government notes that the British approach is now firmly that of a country which will have left the EU but which seeks to negotiate a new, close relationship with it," the spokesperson said.

"While this will inevitably be seen by many as a 'hard exit', the analysis across government has covered all possible models for the future UK relationship with the EU."

The Irish government said it is "very aware of the potential economic opportunities that may arise for Ireland" from Mrs May's planned hard Brexit.

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