There “will not be a hard border” on the island of Ireland in the wake of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Irish prime minister has said.
Speaking at a specially convened meeting of the British-Irish Council (BIC) to discuss the implications of Brexit, Enda Kenny (pictured) said: “We do not want to see a European border internally on the island of Ireland. I can tell you that it would not be acceptable, either south or north, that there would be a European Union border running from Dundalk to Derry. It would be a very retrograde step.”
But Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he could not see how the Common Travel Area arrangement, which currently allows people to move between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland without passport checks, could continue after a Brexit.
He said: “I was alarmed when I heard Theresa May before she became prime minister effectively say that she believed there would be a hard border between north and south. I don’t see how the Common Travel Area could survive the negotiations which we are told are about to take place.
“We have spent the last 20 years forging various agreements which have placed the Irish peace process as one of the most successful peace processes in the world today. Anything that resembled a return to border checkpoints would represent a grievous undermining of the Good Friday Agreement.”
North Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said: “Our colleagues in the Republic of Ireland have said very clearly they want to make the Common Travel Area work. There are ways to deal with this that we can be creative and flexible about.”