Taoiseach meets with Spanish Prime Minster to discuss growing the links between Ireland and Spain
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has arrived in Madrid to meet his Spanish counterpart to discuss the implications of Brexit ahead of negotiations between the EU and the UK, and the possibilities of growing the links between Ireland and Spain.
He was warmly greeted by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he arrived at Palace Moncloa in the Spanish capital.
They chatted informally for 20 minutes before going for lunch, taking a brief stroll in the Spanish sunshine through the Palace grounds.
A press conference will follow later in the afternoon.
Mr Kenny will be seeking to secure support from the Spanish leader for Ireland to be treated as a special case in relation to Brexit because of the fragility of the peace process and the border.
Spain is the first official visit to a European Capital by the Taoiseach, with 2017 set to be a crucial year in Ireland’s Brexit preparations.
French President Francois Hollande has already given assurances that he believes Ireland to be a special case.
The British Prime Minister Teresa May will visit Dublin at the end of January to discuss the situation before she triggers Article 50 by the end of March.
Spain is taking a hard stance on Brexit with regards to Scotland, with Mr Rajoy confirming that Madrid will oppose any separate deal for Scotland. Spain fears such a move could encourage separatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country.
Mr Rajoy has also proposed joint sovereignty between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar, the British territory which has a land border with Spain.
The Taoiseach and the Spanish leader are both amongst the longest serving members of the European People's Party in Europe.