Irish border to top agenda at Brexit summit

1 November 2016, Sky News

With bilateral trade between Ireland and the UK topping £1.35bn a week, the Irish fear Brexit could devastate their economy

Ireland’s Prime Minister will today host an unprecedented cross-border summit to address fears about the impact of Brexit on travel, trade, the economy and security.

Enda Kenny TD has invited political parties, business leaders, security chiefs and other experts to participate in an “All Island Civic Dialogue” in Dublin.

“It’s more of a listening exercise from political parties because we need to hear the voice of retail, the voice of trade, of commerce, of the construction sector, education and all of these areas, north and south,” he said.

With bilateral trade between them topping £1.35bn a week, the Irish fear the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union could devastate their economy.

Irish Foreign Minister, Charlie Flanagan TD, said: “Brexit has been described as the biggest foreign policy issue facing the UK since the EEC accession in 1973.

“In many ways, the same is true of Ireland.”

The issue of the Irish border will top the agenda. It is the only land boundary between the UK and the rest of the EU.

Irish government sources concede that it will be “virtually impossible” to retain an open border without agreement between the UK and other EU member states.

Last week, Northern Ireland’s High Court dismissed the first legal challenges to Brexit, ruling there was no legal impediment to the government triggering Article 50.

Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness MLA, said Northern Ireland should push the EU for “special status” to avoid the “devastating consequences” of the referendum result.

Northern Ireland, like Scotland, voted to remain in the EU but Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Arlene Foster MLA, and her party had campaigned to leave.

Mrs Foster dismissed the Dublin summit as a “grandstanding exercise” and said she had better things to do than be a “loan voice among remoaners.”