Brexit poses huge challenges for us, but we're ready to meet them head-on
Today, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and I are hosting the second plenary session of the All Island Civic Dialogue at Dublin Castle. As was the case for the first one in November, the Irish Government has invited delegates from the North and Republic, from the worlds of politics, business, the community and voluntary sectors, and other leaders from across society.
What we will learn from these delegates will help to ensure a comprehensive and effective national response to Brexit. It will feed into the vast work programme being undertaken right across Government. Since well before the referendum took place, the Government has taken a three-pronged approach to Brexit - analysis, consultation and engagement.
Today's All Island Civic Dialogue could not be more timely, or more pertinent. As the Taoiseach said on Wednesday, we stand at a crossroads - British Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50 of the EU treaties next month. This will begin the process that leads to the UK's departure from the European Union. A challenging negotiation process lies ahead. The objective must be an agreement which creates, on a fair and balanced basis, the closest possible EU-UK relationship, and which also recognises Ireland's unique circumstances. This creates an onus on everyone, and especially the British government, to adopt a constructive and realistic approach.