Saturday 17 February 2018

DUP pours cold water on Taoiseach's 'Brexit all-island forum' plans - again

Enda Kenny said the
Enda Kenny said the "all-island, all-Ireland conversation" in November will involve business people, members of civic society and political parties

Colm Kelpie and Kevin Doyle.

The DUP has once again poured cold water on plans by the Taoiseach to hold an all-island forum on Brexit, saying it wouldn’t be taking part.

Despite previously being shot down by DUP First Minister Arlene Foster, the idea is back on the agenda with Mr Kenny indicating that he intends to organise such an event, which is expected in November.

Mr Kenny said today that an "all-island, all-Ireland conversation" would take place involving business people, political parties and members of civic society.

However, the Irish Independent understands that he has not raised the prospect with Ms Foster since her initial insistence that such a gathering was not necessary.

The DUP tonight reiterated its position that no new structures were needed for cross border talks, and that it wouldn’t be participating.

“Responding to proposals by Enda Kenny for an “All Ireland conversation” on the impact of the European Referendum, the Democratic Unionist Party has indicated its position remains that no new structures were necessary for such discussions and that it would not participate,” a DUP statement said.

Mr Kenny said it was the Government’s intention to protect the Republic’s “vital national interest in these Brexit talks”.

“There is a great deal of confusion out there at the moment and a great deal of uncertainty, not only in Britain but also in Europe,” he said.

Mr Kenny could not state a date for the forum but he expects it will be in November.

In relation to the Brexit fallout, he said: “I fear that this will run for quite some time.  It might not be as straightforward or as short-term as many people think.”

Mr Kenny added: “We need the conversation as to what is going to happen in terms of agribusiness North-South, meat producers, beef producers, pork producers, industry, financial services, education and health.

“All of these are areas that concern us.  The primary objective for us as a Republic is to ensure our interests are foremost in our minds in any conversations that we have.”

A DUP spokesman said the outcome of the UK referendum has had an impact on the Republic and that it is right to have cross border discussions.

“The North South Ministerial Council has already discussed issues of mutual concern and that will undoubtedly continue prior to and during the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union,” the spokesman said.

"With reports that Article 50 may be triggered early in 2017, ensuring that Northern Ireland’s voice is at the heart of Brexit negotiations is vital.

"As we move closer to that process commencing it is important that we not only highlight issues of concern, but prepare to exploit the opportunities that leaving the European Union can present for Northern Ireland.”

Mr Kenny was forced to scrap plans for a North-South “All Ireland Forum” to deal with the Brexit fallout for the entire island of Ireland in July after Ms Foster said the issue had not been raised with her.


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