Business Brexit

Saturday 21 January 2017

Special status of Irish citizens in UK 'will be protected'

Richard Wheeler and Sarah Collins

Published 08/11/2016 | 02:30

Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Spain’s Economy Minister Luis de Guindos attend a eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels. Photo: Yves Herman
Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Spain’s Economy Minister Luis de Guindos attend a eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels. Photo: Yves Herman

Irish citizens are expected to have their special status in the UK protected post-Brexit, according to British Brexit Secretary David Davis.

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Mr Davis told MPs he believes there will be no change to what is enshrined in law in the Ireland Act 1949.

This legislation established the special status in which the Republic of Ireland is regarded "not a foreign country" for the purpose of UK laws.

Speaking in the Commons, SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes told Mr Davis: "My constituents share a concern about the relationship with our closest neighbour and with our border with the sovereign nation of Ireland, in which the Ireland Act 1949... they talk about the common travel area but there's no answer to this question yet.

"Would you, here on the floor of the House, say here and now that there will be no change to the rights of Irish citizens as dictated by the Ireland Act, amended in 1949?"

Mr Davis replied: "It's a very specific question and forgive me if I did not answer it before because I intend to.

"I will write to you in detail but I think the answer is there will be no change.

"The aim, as I said to you before, is that the common travel area rights - including the rights to vote, the rights to work and so on, both ways - will continue but I will come back to you about the detail."

Catastrophic

Meanwhile, a study that has found some €12bn could be wiped from the Irish economy because of Brexit is "a concern", but "not catastrophic", Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said.

Mr Noonan said the paper by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Finance Department was "a very important piece of work" but that the Government would handle the fallout of Britain leaving the EU.

The study found a 'hard' Brexit would leave Irish economic output around 3.5pc below what it otherwise would have been.

But the report doesn't consider the impact of measures to mitigate the effect of Brexit.

Mr Noonan said: "While it's a matter of concern - you never like losing potential growth and potential jobs in an economy -it's not catastrophic when you look at the assumptions.

"While it indicates that Brexit is bad news for Ireland, it's the kind of bad news that we can allow for," Mr Noonan told reporters in Brussels.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that the ESRI report looked at EU arrangements in place for Norway and Switzerland as well as a "drastic" scenario where Britain leaves without negotiating access to the single market.

"Britain will want a British solution. It may not be a Norwegian one.

"It may not be the Swiss one. It may be something entirely different," he said.

Irish Independent

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