Monday 23 April 2018

Angela Merkel pledges to help Ireland 'safeguard its interests' in the upcoming Brexit talks

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and German Chancellor Merkel deliver statements ahead of their meeting to discuss Brexit
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and German Chancellor Merkel deliver statements ahead of their meeting to discuss Brexit
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to help Ireland safeguard its interests in the upcoming Brexit talks saying she is aware Irish concerns including the "very important issues of war and peace".

Her remarks came ahead of a meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Berlin this evening where she also praised Ireland's growing economy.

Ms Merkel said that the EU will adopt a constructive approach the Brexit negotiations.

She said the remaining 27 member states will safeguard their interests but also want to remain "good partners" with the UK.

The German leader, whose statement was delivered through a translator also said: "we also have to underline that Ireland is very much effected and effected in a particular way by the UK leaving the EU".

She noted the interconnection of the Irish and British economies as well as the peace process in the North.

"We are all familiar with the situation with Ireland and the very, very important issues of war and peace that are important to Ireland.

"We as European partners here in Germany will try to help Ireland to safeguard its interests," she said.

Ms Merkel also spoke of Ireland's experience during the economic crash saying that the country went through "a very difficult time".

But she said: "all of the reforms have been successfully mastered by your country.

"You have enormous growth rates," she added, saying this was "very commendable".

"Step-by-step they are proving to be a boon to the people," Ms Merkel said.

Mr Kenny spoke of the Government's preparations for Brexit since before the referendum.

He said this was done because "it was clear that our country would be more exposed than any other country to the negative effects of Brexit."

He stressed that despite the UK decision to leave the EU "Ireland's place remains firmly at the heart of Europe".

Mr Kenny added: "We will be very much part of the European Union team for the negotiations ahead."

He also spoke of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

He said: "Whatever happens in the Brexit negotiations nothing should undermine the peace and stability that the Chancellor has referred to in Northern Ireland which took so long to achieve and in which the European Union has played such an important part."

Mr Kenny said that recent developments in the North show that stability there "remains fragile".

"It is therefore critical that there is no return to a hard border.

"This is a political problem and we will have to be both creative and imaginative in dealing with it."

He told Ms Merkel that whatever is agreed must be compatible with EU law, but added: "We must not get lost in technical detail at this stage an lose sight of the principle objective of maintaining peace and maintaining stability.

"I know there is a great understanding of this in Germany," he said, thanking Ms Merkel for her own "deep understanding" of the issue.

He said another concern in Ireland is that the economy will be "disproportionately affected" by Brexit.

"Unemployment fell to 6.4 per cent last month down from 8.3 per cent the previous year and we can not and will not allow this to be reversed," Mr Kenny said.

He said he is conscious of the need to protect jobs and noted that he had been meeting businesses and trade representatives as part of his visit to Germany.

"We look forward to working closely together with Germany as we respond to Brexit, migration and other issues in a calm and productive manner," he added.

Online Editors

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