Kenny to push for talks between US Congress and EU on Brexit during Washington visit

Kenny to push for talks between US Congress and EU on Brexit during Washington visit

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will look for talks between the US Congress and the European Union to discuss the impact of Brexit when he is in Washington DC, writes Political Editor Daniel McConnell in Brussels.

Speaking in Brussels after a meeting with EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani, Mr Kenny said he will suggest the matter in his talks with US President Trump, vice-President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“When I go to America and I speak with President Trump, vice-President Pence and Speaker Ryan it is important the American Congress should have discussions and have the opportunity to talk things through with the European Union. President Tajani is willing to travel to America and play his part,” he said.

Mr Kenny also held meetings with Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, and President Donald Tusk in which he raised Ireland's main concerns about Britain's pending departure from Europe.

“We are facing a huge political challenge, but we want an orderly discussion with Britain.

I assured Antonio and Donald Tusk that Ireland will remain a member of the European Union and will address those issues from the position of sitting in with the 27,” he said.

“I had a good meeting with President Donald Tusk earlier today and we discussed the question of the future of the European Union in particular in relation to brexit and our specific concerns in regard to Northern Ireland, the peace process, and the relationship with the United Kingdom. I met with a number of the Irish MEPs and had a discussion with them, mostly about Brexit and its impact on Northern Ireland and the Peace Process,” he said.

Mr Kenny also said yesterday's elections in Northern Ireland formed part of his discussions.

“We referred to the fact that elections are taking place there today and we hope to have a conclusiokn to that so we can have an assembly and an executive put together. We will be talking to our British counterparts on that shortly,”he added.

"I have made it clear for quite some time now, before these elections, that the Good Friday Agreement contains the opportunity to put in these negotiations language that has already been agreed in internationally binding agreement, that at some future time were that position to arise, that if the people by consent were to form a united Ireland that that could be a seamless transfer as happened in the case of East Germany and West Germany when the Berlin Wall came down,” he said.

Mr Kenny insisted he wants the wording of the Good Friday Agreement included in any final Brexit deal between the UK and Europe.

For his part, Mr Tajani said the Irish concerns about the peace process and the rentention of trade links with the UK have the “full attention” of the Parliament.

“I understand the deep political, economic and historical ties that link Ireland to the UK. Brexit will be a particular challenge for Ireland and it has two main issues. Ireland must ensure that its economic links to the UK are protected,” he said.

“Secondly, it must ensure that the terms of the Good Friday Agreement which has given peace in Northern Ireland are included in any future agreement between the UK and the EU.

Both issues will have the full attention of the EU Parliament,” he told reporters.

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