Republic gears up for North-South Brexit summit to "protect the peace process"

Irish Government seek united front as arguments and legal challenges stalk the post Brexit north

TAOISEACH of the Republic of Ireland Enda Kenny has announced a set of all-Island summits, the first of which will occur on 18 November, to look over the economic costs of Brexit to the Irish economy on both sides of the border.

The news followed the weekend announcement from the UK PM Theresa May who stated she intends to trigger Article 50 by March 2017, and the first of the legal challenges to Brexit from an all party group in Northern Ireland yesterday (Tuesday 3 October).

Following a cabinet meeting, the Taoiseach also reaffirmed that the priorities of the Irish Government were trade, the peace process and Northern Ireland and freedom of movement.

"I will continue to engage with Northern Ireland party leaders on the range of issues involved." Edna Kenny

Kenny said: "Now that we have clarity from Prime Minister May regarding the timetable, we will intensify our engagement and preparation for the negotiations. Ireland faces unique challenges from Brexit, not least given the all-island issues that arise.

"I will continue to engage with Northern Ireland party leaders on the range of issues involved and I welcome the commitment of the executive parties to working through the issues in the context of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC)."

Since the European Referendum result, the Irish Government has been working closely with the executive in Northern Ireland through the body known as the NSMC. Recent meetings at this and the British and Irish Council (BIC) have been cordial, but with a division of interest in the power sharing government in the north, the Irish government has found it difficult to prepare a unified front on trade.

"Ireland faces unique challenges from Brexit, not least given the all-island issues that arise." Edna Kenny

Additionally on November 2 an "all-island civic dialogue" on Brexit hosted by the Taoiseach and the minister for foreign affairs and trade will invite a range of civic society groups, trade unions, business groups and non-governmental organisations as well as representatives of the main political parties on the island.

The Taoiseach and leader of the governing party Fine Gael also said: "The next NSMC Summit, on 18 November in Armagh, will be hugely significant, when we will have completed our Brexit audit of North/South programmes and will consider how we can best protect the peace process and North-South interests in upcoming negotiations.

"I also look forward to a broader dialogue with civic society in the weeks ahead, including on the all-island issues which we will consider at a civic society conference on 2nd November."

Picture courtesy of Michael Foley

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