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Bertie Ahern: Ireland leaving the EU would be an 'act of insanity'

He has reiterated his comments that there is no support for an Irexit.

Image: Sky News

FORMER TAOISEACH BERTIE Ahern has reiterated his comment that Ireland is not “mad enough” to leave the EU.

In an interview with Sky News today about his thoughts on Brexit, he said that he agrees with the UK’s chancellor Philip Hammond in aiming for the seamless border that has been between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for the last decade or so.

“I think that’s the way everybody on the island of Ireland wants it,” he said. “The difficulty is that as I’ve said time out of number, the experts in this area say that’s impossible.”

Ahern said that until this is resolved, there is no certainty on the issue – which is worrying from a business point of view, in relation to people who cross the border to work, and for tourism.

With regard to previous suggestions about a border on the Irish Sea, Ahern said:

At some stages I have said that but it’s always been very tongue-in-cheek – firstly you would have to get an agreement from all parties and I do not see unionist parties ever agreeing to that suggestion.

He said he doesn’t think there will be an easy solution to the border issue, and that he doesn’t believe Irish unity is possible at this stage either.

With regard to Ireland following the UK out of the European Union, Ahern said: “That’s not going to happen, there is no support thankfully for us to get involved in an act of insanity.”

He added: “I think I said before to you, we’re mad but we’re not that mad and we’re not going to do that now or in the future.”

Ahern said that his concerns around a hard border post-Brexit include the movement of goods, and land border checks.

“We should have been trying to get a hard position negotiated,” said Ahern of the Irish border situation post-Brexit, saying that this position should have been then put to Europe.

“There is no realistic solution that has been put forward yet,” he said, adding he is worried the issue has not been examined to the extent it requires.

That one hasn’t is a “mistake on all sides” that needs to be rectified, he said. He also said he believes there needs to be a transition period for Brexit, which may stretch to four or five years.

Hammond said today that the UK will seek a Brexit transitional deal for up to three years after Brexit takes place in 2019.

 Read: Bertie Ahern says Ireland isn’t ‘mad enough’ to leave the EU>

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