#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 13°C Sunday 19 September 2021

Enda Kenny wants an open border between the Republic and Northern Ireland

The Dáil has been recalled to discuss the Brexit fallout.

enda 44 Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking in the Dáil today.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY said the Irish government, the British government, and the Northern Ireland Executive all want the open border with the North retained.

Kenny was speaking in the Dáil today after it was recalled to discuss last Friday’s Brexit vote.

“All three administrations share the common objective of wanting to preserve the common travel area and an open border on the island of Ireland,” he said.

There is much speculation about what will become of the border between the Republic and the North, with no decisions made or clear-cut rules to follow.

Ahead of last Thursday’s historic vote, there had been discussions on what a Brexit could mean for the island of Ireland – with Revenue examining how much border controls would cost.

The Taoiseach also pointed to the possibility of border checks prior to the referendum as he urged a Remain result.

Kenny said he fully understands why many people in Northern Ireland are deeply concerned that they will be outside of the European project.

Post-exit arrangements 

The Taoiseach said the stakes for Ireland in relation to a Brexit were always higher than they are in other EU countries.

“Urgent” and “intensive” work is underway between the Irish government, the British government and the Northern Ireland Executive, he said, to ensure that the gains of the past two decades are fully protected in whatever post-exit arrangements are negotiated.

Kenny believes bilateral discussions can commence with the UK due to Ireland’s “unique bilateral interests”, particularly with regard to Northern Ireland.

However, for wider issues such as trade, he conceded that talks will have to go through larger EU negotiations.

We will – in parallel – take forward with the UK those matters which can be settled bilaterally, in whole or in part.
But in many crucial areas, above all those where the EU has the strongest competence such as trade, it will be the outcome of the wider negotiations which will be decisive.
 It is important to recall that Ireland will work within the EU context.

Contingency planning for Ireland, which Kenny said has already been carried out, is “particularly challenging” because of the unknowns right now are innumerable.

EU referendum Source: Mary Turner

The unknown 

“First, we do not know the precise arrangements or the timescale for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU; second, we do not know what the new relationship between the UK and the EU will be,” Kenny told the chamber.

He said the future of the UK is in the hands of the British government now and will depend on how they proceed in negotiations with the EU.

Separate negotiations on the new relationship between the UK and the EU will therefore take place, if that is what the UK seeks.

He said it is vital that the UK and the EU continue to operate on friendly terms.

Kenny is advocating a softer approach to Ireland’s neighbours, stating that it is important they are kept in the fold. It is a shift from another narrative – preferred by some EU members – of stringent and tough measures being imposed on the UK.

The closer the UK is to the EU, the better for all of us, and above all for Ireland.
However, it will be up to the UK itself to work out what it wants to achieve, and how it sees its future.

Kenny said he will be travelling to Brussels tomorrow for a meeting of the European Council. This will be the first opportunity for the Taoiseach to put forward Ireland’s specific interests and concerns and to make clear the national position.

New British Prime Minister

Calling the Brexit vote a “political earthquake” for the UK, Kenny said he expected there to be broad consensus that there is a need to await the appointment of a new Prime Minister before a formal exit notification can be made under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin took the opportunity to address what he said was an anti-foreigner agenda which he believes was the fundamental driving force behind the Leave campaign.

“Let no one be in any doubt about how this result came about,” he said.

“There are many who are trying to spin it and play-down what everyone could see for themselves.

“We have heard this already from some groups in this House as they try to claim the result for their own cause. But please stop the attempt to cover-up what everyone can see.

This is the result of a relentless campaign of attacks on Europe and the promotion of an anti-foreigner agenda.

Martin said it was important to remember why the European Union was established.

We should never forget something very simple and uncontested – the European Union was the driving force behind turning a century of war and destruction into a time of peace and development.

EU referendum Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Speaking about that “sinister poster of hordes of Syrians waiting to invade Britain is a part of this result and you don’t get to ignore it”.

“Take our country back,” is the current preferred slogan of extreme populists throughout Europe, he added.

He said the result of the referendum was the final outcome of four decades of rhetoric which blamed Europe and foreigners for everything .

Read: “Britain is open for business”: Chancellor George Osborne speaks for the first time since Brexit result>

Read: Labour deputy leader tells Corbyn he has no authority, as resignations keep coming>

Read next: