TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has spoken of the relationship between Britain and Ireland while at the London School of Economics – and whether Ireland will rejoin the Commonwealth.
He is in the city for the first of a series of annual summits with David Cameron, and he described today as a “symbolic and important day”. He said his visit is one of strengthening, consolidating and honouring the British-Irish relationship.
Reports on Twitter from those present said that following his speech, he was questioned on whether Ireland would rejoin the Commonwealth.
The Taoiseach’s answer was that this would not happen.
During his speech, the Taoiseach said that the start of St Patrick’s Week is a fitting time to reflect “on those remarkable days, two years ago, when her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, to us Banrían Eilís a Dó, came to visit Ireland”.
He and Prime Minister David Cameron agreed a joint statement last year setting out their goals and objectives for the next 10 years, the progress on which they will review today.
He said that both Governments “remain committed to working together to realise fully, a peaceful, prosperous Northern Ireland”, building on the Good Friday Agreement.
He also spoke of the current Government’s work on Ireland’s economic recovery. Saying that Ireland “had just been forced into a bailout arrangement” when the Fine Gael-Labour coalition came into government, Kenny added that he firmly believes Ireland is now heading in the right direction.
On Ireland’s presidency of the European Union, he said that he is satisfied with the progress made to date, and that “it is absolutely clear to us that Ireland’s long-term economic and political interests lie in a strong and cohesive EU”.
He also addressed the issue of the UK’s position in the European Union:
Let me say simply, we joined the Union together 40 years ago. We have travelled a great distance together within it. We are of like mind on so many of the vital issues the Union faces, especially the jobs and growth challenges I have already set out.
Describing the UK as “an enormously important partner for us in Europe”, the Taoiseach said:
We greatly value the contribution you make, and we look forward to it continuing long into the future. It is good for Europe, good for Ireland and, not least, good for the UK.