Saturday 25 February 2017

Dismay as British PM says Brexit means border with North

Puts pressure on Kenny ahead of today's meeting

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

British Prime Minister Theresa May with Northern Ireland
First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin
McGuinness at Stormont Castle in Belfast. Photo: Reuters
British Prime Minister Theresa May with Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont Castle in Belfast. Photo: Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated there will have to be some changes to the Border in the wake of the Brexit result.

Ahead of a meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in London today, Ms May said that when the UK leaves the European Union, "of course Northern Ireland will have a border with the Republic of Ireland".

However, she added that it would not be as severe as during the Troubles. "Nobody wants to return to the borders of the past," she said.

Her nuanced comments are not in sync with the Taoiseach's definitive stance that there "will not be a hard border from Dundalk to Derry".

And Fianna Fáil's foreign affairs spokesman Darragh O'Brien told the Irish Independent the new Conservative leader appeared to be "walking a difficult tightrope".

He described her statement after a meeting with members of the Northern Ireland Executive as "ambiguous".

He said the border between North and South has been "irrelevant" in recent times and should stay that way.

And he added that one option for the UK would be to have an 'island border' at ports and airports rather than a physical land border.

This 'all-Island' approach has been widely mooted in government circles but is unlikely to be acceptable to the unionists.

A significant part of Mr Kenny's meeting at No 10 Downing Street today will focus on the border arrangements.

Officials in Dublin last night said that if Ms May wanted to rule out a hard border "she would have done so by now".

However, they also noted that she has toned down her language on the border issue since the referendum result.

Irish Independent

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