Wednesday 21 February 2018

Irish and UK politicians united in saying no return of a 'hard border'

Kathleen Funchion and Lord Dubs at the meeting yesterday Photo: Steve Humphreys
Kathleen Funchion and Lord Dubs at the meeting yesterday Photo: Steve Humphreys
John Downing

John Downing

British and Irish parliamentarians gathered in Dublin yesterday have agreed there can be no return of "a hard border" in the wake of Brexit.

The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) gathers elected politicians from all the parliaments in these islands and this was its first meeting since the shock decision in the June 23 referendum by UK voters to quit the EU. Chairman Lord Alfred Dubs welcomed the meeting's outcome.

"I have been pleased to see the determination shown by all attendees to work hard to ensure that good relations are maintained and there was broad agreement that a hard border must not be reintroduced. We have held very positive debates on the impact of the referendum result and I am encouraged that BIPA can play an important role in future developments," the chairman said.

Irish co-chairperson, Sinn Féin TD Kathleen Funchion, said the meeting was the first time many members from across these islands came together since the result of the British referendum.

"Our discussions were rightly dominated by Brexit and all members reiterated their desire to continue the vital work done by BIPA in improving relations between all the administrations on these islands," she said.

Former Children's Minister and newly appointed Fine Gael senator James Reilly told the Assembly that "much more unites us on this island than divides us".

He added that Brexit will throw up several challenges and that a united response is required.

"If we look for problems we will find plenty," Dr Reilly said.

"But we can turn challenge into opportunity and adversity into advantage."

Irish Independent

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