Thursday 18 January 2018

Tory view on Brexit a 'disaster' for Ireland - Bertie

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern alongside former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern alongside former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien. Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Shona Murray

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has described Theresa May's position on Brexit as being a "disaster" for Ireland.

The former Fianna Fáil leader also said that Ms May's election campaign has consisted of "mainly one-liners". Mr Ahern said the Conservative election pitch has left him fearful for Ireland's position post-Brexit.

He told the Irish Independent: "I have to say the most depressing thing I've seen in the last few weeks is the fact that she and her party and government have put the customs union into their manifesto.

"It's the customs union that's the disaster for us."

He added that if the UK leaves the customs union then it will force Ireland to have "tariffs, borders and restrictions".

Mr Ahern was speaking as co-chair of the Interaction Council, a special group of international former presidents and prime ministers set up in 1983 to discuss recommendations and remedies for the political, economic and social problems confronting the world.

The group was in Dublin for a three-day conference this week and was hosted by President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin earlier this week.

Mr Ahern also spoke of his disappointment at the ­policies pursued by US President ­Donald Trump.

He said: "I find it sad that a president of the free world has taken so many positions that are against what those of us who support the United States or a free world are.

"I've resigned myself to the fact that we're just going to have to live with this for a few years."

Other members of the council include Viktor Zubkov (former Russian PM), Jean Chrétien (former Canadian PM), James Bolger (Former New Zealand PM) and Victor and Kateryna Yushchenko, former president and first lady of Ukraine.

President Michael D Higgins said it was important not to "relent in efforts" to realise that today the world needs "more, not less, solidarity; more, not less, understanding of complexity; and more, not less, cooperation on the common issues facing humanity".

Irish Independent

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