Tuesday 23 May 2017

Kenny: I don't want to see the North wait 20 years for access to the EU

TD Noel Rock organised the Fine Gael fundraiser Picture: Tom Burke
TD Noel Rock organised the Fine Gael fundraiser Picture: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has reignited the debate surrounding a United Ireland after he said he did not want to wait "20 years" before Northern Ireland secures accession to EU membership.

Mr Kenny said that in light of Brexit, a scenario could develop whereby the North - which voted 'Remain' - could end up at the "back of the queue" for EU entry.

He made the remarks at a private Fine Gael fundraiser in Hugo's restaurant in Dublin, which was organised by the party's youngest TD Noel Rock.

Several sources at the event, which was well attended by ministers and TDs, said there was a clear signalling by the Taoiseach of the prospect of a referendum on a United Ireland.

A Government source, however, emphasised that Mr Kenny made similar remarks at an event in Oxford in early September.

There, he told an audience that the "possibility of unity by consent must be maintained as a valid democratic option into the future".

Mr Kenny was due to travel to Wales today for the British Irish Council, which will be dominated by the issue of Brexit.

Ministers involved in the Cabinet sub-committee on Brexit yesterday agreed that departments should be "micro managed" to ensure that the country responds as best it can once British Prime Minister Theresa May invokes Article 50.

Irish Independent

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