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Bertie Ahern says Ireland isn't 'mad enough' to leave the EU

“The whole border issue is a nightmare for us,” the former Taoiseach said.

Image: Screengrab/Sky News

BERTIE AHERN HAS said he doesn’t think Ireland is “mad enough” to leave the EU.

The former Taoiseach made the comments in an interview about Brexit with Sky News.

Ahern said the impact of the UK leaving the EU will be “enormous” on Ireland, saying the food sector will be particularly badly hit as about 45% of perishable items in the industry are exported to the UK.

In terms of the border between the Republic of Ireland and the North, Ahern said: “The whole border issue is a nightmare for us.

“I had hoped that the UK would not pull out of the customs union because that was never really mentioned last summer … People were talking about the single market, they were talking about the European Union … and then on 17 January the prime minister said, ‘Yeah, we’re leaving the customs union.’

“That draws a big difficulty for us for the very simple reason that the border between North and South, between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, becomes the natural border between the European Union and the United Kingdom,” Ahern said.

St Patrick’s week

Speaking to reporters at an EU summit in Brussels earlier, Enda Kenny called for clarity on the type of relationship Britain wants with the EU post-Brexit and what this could mean for Ireland.

In his weekly message, the Taoiseach said he will use his St Patrick’s week trip to the US to reaffirm Ireland’s commitment to the EU.

The as yet unknown nature and scale of the implications of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has the potential to impact us in particular here in Ireland due to our position as Britain’s closest neighbour.

“Accordingly, the message I will take with me to the United States across the next seven days will be one of reassurance in terms of Ireland’s commitment to maintaining our current position as the gateway to Europe for US investors…

“Ireland’s absolute commitment to remain at the heart of Europe in spite of Brexit is set to be a theme of each and every ministerial visit abroad this St Patrick’s Day and I have asked each minister to report back to Cabinet on their return in this regard,” Kenny said.

Read: Med schools ‘conscious of distress’ experienced by families of infants whose remains were sent to universities

Read: Le Pen ignores summons over allegations she misused European Parliament funds

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Órla Ryan

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