Tuesday 12 December 2017

Taoiseach vows to 'make the case for Ireland's national interest' as he arrives at crunch European Council meeting on Brexit

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Pic Tom Burke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Pic Tom Burke

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent in Brussels

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny vowed to "make the case for Ireland's national interest" as he arrived at this evening's crunch European Council meeting on Brexit.

Mr Kenny is meeting in Brussels with European leaders including Britain's David Cameron as they discuss the fallout from last week's shock UK referendum result.

He pledged that Ireland will be "central" to the talks on the relationship between Britain and the European Union.

Mr Cameron is to face the 27 EU member States at dinner this even to explain the vote, and will return home as the other prime ministers and presidents discuss their next move tomorrow.

Arriving at the EU Council headquarters Mr Kenny said: "I'm going to make the case for Ireland's national interest here in terms of our economy, in terms of our Common Travel Area, in terms of the Peace Process and the border with Northern Ireland.

"Obviously discussions will take place eventually with respect of the relationship between the EU and the UK.

"We'll be central to that and obviously we want to be party to those discussions and those negotiations."

Mr Kenny said he wasn't in favour of a lengthy delay in Britain triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - the  law that allows for a member state to leave the EU.

However, he said: "I am happy that Prime Minister Cameron said he would like that the triggering of Article 50 will be taken by a new Prime Minister.

"I note that they're bringing that forward by a month. I think that's good. It gives that stability between now and that decision being made in respect of Article 50 and allows everybody else to focus on the issues that are going to arise here.

"While the economics apply globally, the politics apply regionally to individual countries," Mr Kenny added.

Asked if he will insist that the free movement of people remain along with free trade, Mr Kenny replied:

"Obviously it's a fundamental principle as you know of the European Union – free movement of people, of goods and of services and that's always been a cornerstone principle of the Union for very many years and we stand by that."

He was also asked if the European People's Party - of which Fine Gael is a member - will agree to Ireland getting a better deal in the future Brexit talks, given our closeness to Britain.

The EPP's most powerful leader is Germany's Angela Merkel

Mr Kenny said that the EPP is "well aware of Ireland's position".

"I will articulate and our people will articulate very strongly what our vital national interests here are," he added.

Online Editors

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