Saturday 22 October 2016

Give Kenny 'space' for Brexit talks - MEP

Published 21/07/2016 | 02:30

Mairead McGuinness with Taoiseach Enda Kenny: she urged that he be given time to negotiate in the post-Brexit scenario Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Mairead McGuinness with Taoiseach Enda Kenny: she urged that he be given time to negotiate in the post-Brexit scenario Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Taoiseach Enda Kenny needs to be given the "space" to effectively negotiate a post-Brexit deal for Ireland, according to a Fine Gael MEP.

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Mairead McGuinness told the MacGill Summer School that there was a time when Mr Kenny was under pressure to take up a post in the European Council - but instead opted to prioritise Irish interests.

The Midlands-North-West MEP said Mr Kenny is well respected and well placed to negotiate on behalf of Ireland and that he needs to be given the "space" to do so.

"People will know there was a time when they wanted An Taoiseach to be in the council and do European work. And there was an extraordinary respect at the time when he said 'No I will stay in Ireland and I will try very hard to fix what is broken and to take up that challenge'," Ms McGuinness said.

"Now is the time for the Taoiseach to be given the space to deal with this European issue that has all-Ireland implications," she added.

The remark may be seen as a warning to other Fine Gael politicians who have put pressure on Mr Kenny to spell out his departure plan.

During the same debate, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said Irish reunification is the "biggest and best idea around" and must now be considered in light of Brexit.

Mr Eastwood described the fact that a Border poll is now firmly on the political agenda as a "natural and welcome development".

And he said that "political life can no longer afford to presume the permanence of anything" after British voters opted to leave the EU.

"The SDLP, as a party, continues to believe that the reunification of Ireland is the biggest and the best idea around," Mr Eastwood said.

"However, if the Brexit result and the demise of David Cameron has also taught us, it is that we should make sure to fight referenda that we are confident of winning.

"Scottish independence campaigners produced a 670-page document outlining the path to independent nationhood and how it would operate.

"It was credible and detailed. Irish nationalism now needs to start on its page one," he added.

Mr Eastwood's remarks firmly put his party in the opposite corner to the DUP.

Separately yesterday, the President of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA), Joe Healy, warned that the viability of family farms has been put at risk as a result of the decision by Britain to leave the European Union.

Mr Healy told of an immediate tightening of cash-flow since the Brexit vote last month.

"IFA is demanding immediate action by Government, banks, suppliers and processors to support farmers through this crisis and alleviate farm income pressures."

Irish Independent

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