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Bertie Ahern says Theresa May's Brexit strategy is putting peace in the North at risk

Ahern said any attempt to create a physical border would be “create a lot of bad feeling”.

Image: Niall Carson

NORTHERN IRELAND’S PEACE process is being put at risk by Theresa May’s hardline Brexit policy, according to former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

In an interview with the Observer in the UK today, Ahern said May’s flip-flopping over whether the border between the North and the Republic would be manned sends the wrong message to the entire island of Ireland.

Ahern said he believes that there must be consistency to the Prime Minister’s words on Brexit.

He told the Observer: “May seems to be switching her language. She’s saying not that there’ll be no border, but that the border won’t be as difficult as to create problems. I worry far more about what’s going to happen with that.”

Ahern added that any attempt to create a physical border would be “very hard to maintain and would create a lot of bad feeling”.

Not only would the reinstatement of a physical border have negative consequences economically, it would stoke anger within the North’s nationalist community, who saw the Good Friday Agreement as a way of “integrating the island”, Ahern added.

He said that if you take that away, it will have a “destabilising effect” on an area which is already in flux.

Dublin visit

Theresa May, speaking in Dublin last month, said both she and Kenny were “personally committed to strengthening the relationship” between Ireland and the UK.

“I know for the people of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the ability to move freely across the border is an essential part of daily life, which is why the Taoiseach and I have both been clear that there will be no return to the borders of the past,” said the UK Prime Minister.

Both leaders said any manifestation of a hard border in the North would have “very negative consequences”.

May and Kenny reiterated each other’s points about the border issue, stating they wanted it to be as “seamless”, “friction free” and as “trouble-free” as possible.

Describing their earlier private discussion as “frank” and “constructive”, Kenny said both countries were in agreement that the trading ties between the two countries should be “recognised and facilitated” as negotiations go forward.

He said this was an “absolute priority” for the Irish government.

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