Tuesday 21 May 2019

Anglo-Irish relationship 'will suffer from fall-out'

Former Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. Photo: AFP/Getty
Former Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. Photo: AFP/Getty

Shona Murray

Former Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson has warned Brexit will leave Anglo-Irish relations "unalterably changed".

Mr Robinson also said that the Irish Government and its British counterpart will struggle to maintain the "warmth of their pre-Brexit affinity" when the process of the UK leaving the EU is complete.

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School, in Glenties, Co Donegal, Mr Robinson also admitted that the Brexit process, of which he was supportive, has been "disruptive and wearisome".

He said: "There has been a settled understanding of the constitutional position of Northern Ireland and its interaction with both the rest of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

"Shaking that tree was certain to cause an abundant fall-out."

He added: "Whatever happens over the next weeks and months the stable connections that developed over the past two decades will unalterably change."

Mr Robinson also admitted that the EU provided a "common room" for allies to work together, including the British and Irish governments.

That contact would now cease with the UK leaving the EU. The only way to get the 'East-West' relations remotely back together is "through the devolved government", he added.

Meanwhile, almost a month since the White Paper on Brexit was released, chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has sounded its death knell.

Mr Barnier flatly rejected a key element of the proposals for future relations following UK withdrawal.

Central to the Chequers plan is the convoluted "facilitated customs arrangement" under which obligatory tariffs charged at the border are collected by British authorities on behalf of the EU depending on the destination of imported goods.

In their first public appearance together, Mr Barnier left newly appointed Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab in no doubt that the plan was a "non-starter".

Irish Independent

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