Brexit could be 'vicious' and May may trigger it next month - Taoiseach
Ireland and the UK have agreed to preserve the benefits of the Common Travel Area in the wake of the Brexit vote, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.
The Taoiseach also warned that the Brexit negotiations could get "vicious" as some EU countries have taken a "poor view" of the UK's decision to leave.
And he warned Article 50 could be triggered as soon as next month.
Launching the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit this morning, the Taoiseach said neither government wants to limit the free movement of people between the two islands.
And he said the ultimate objective will be to ensure that the Brexit negotiations lead to the closest possible trading relationship between the UK and EU.
"Neither I nor the prime minister desire to limit the freedom of people on both sides of the Irish Sea to trade, to live, to work, to travel freely across these islands. Therefore we have agreed that the benefits of the common travel area be preserved," Mr Kenny said.
He described Brexit as "the most significant economic and social challenge of the last 50 years".
"That's why it's so important to have a conversation about what it means to all of us," he said.
He said clarity has been achieved on a number of issues, including the fact that Article 50 will be triggered before the end of March, and that access to the single market requires acceptance of the freedom of movement of people principle.
Mr Kenny also reiterated that the Irish Government remains committed to the Good Friday Agreement.
The day-long event is being attended by politicians, business and civic society representatives from across the island.
However, neither the DUP or UUP are represented.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan described this as a "missed opportunity".
He also said the recent remarks from DUP lead Arlene Foster that the Republic was looking to poach investment from Northern Ireland as not being helpful.
"This is a most serious challenge and it's important therefore that everybody works together because there is the old cliche, strength in unity. I think if we divide, or if we engage in unhelpful activity, we will be the weaker," Mr Flanagan said.