Thursday 21 September 2017

'Irish people will travel to Britain to work' - Taoiseach welcomes Theresa May's comments on maintaining common travel area

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with UK Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with UK Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Robin Schiller and Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted that Irish people will not only travel to Britain for social reasons after Brexit, but they will also continue to work there.

Speaking on RTÉ News, Mr Kenny outlined there will be no return of a “hard border” between Ireland and the UK.

“We agreed when I went to Downing Street that we will preserve the common travel. It doesn’t just mean travelling for social reasons; Irish people will travel to Britain and British people will travel to Ireland, not just for social reasons but to work.

“There’ll be no return to the hard border which I call it, or as she says, the borders of the past where there were customs posts every 100 yards.”

He also emphasised how Theresa May outlined Britain is not leaving Europe, it is leaving the European Union, and acknowledged how they had a “testy relationship” with the EU.

“Britain has always had a testy relationship with Europe over many years so they are withdrawing and moving from the single market. They want a friction free trading relationship with the EU, so we will negotiate from an EU perspective,” he said.

He welcomed the “clarity” brought by the British Prime Minister’s speech and said he was looking forward to meeting her for further discussions.

Earlier today, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin raised the matter in the first leaders questions of the new Dáil term.

Responding to Mr Kenny's remarks that he welcomed Mr May setting out what Britain wants, Mr Martin said: "I don't think we should be welcoming a negative clarity".

Earlier Mr Martin warned that Ms May's speech "constitutes an agenda for a very hard Brexit" and "very difficult negotiations ahead".

In reference to her intention to leave the European Union single market and customs union he said: "No matter what kind of gloss it means tariffs on goods between Britain and Ireland and Britain and EU."

He said her speech means the government needs to "change the nature of its response to Brexit".

Mr Martin said that aside from Ms May's remarks on the CTA there was "not a whole lot in the speech in terms of an Irish perspective"

He said there was "no mention of a special status for Northern Ireland" adding, "in fact it goes in the opposite direction".

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