The Good Friday Agreement is the “template” for political relationships between Ireland and the UK and has not been diminished by the Brexit vote, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has insisted.
He said the Government’s “immediate strategy” was to sit down with the British government and Northern Ireland Executive to “urgently discuss how collectively we are together going to protect the gains of the last decades and to prevent the worst effects of a UK departure from the EU”.
“As a co-guarantor of the Good Friday and succeeding agreements, the Irish Government is determined that its institutions, values, and principles will be fully protected,” he said.
Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the region had been left facing “enormous challenges” in the wake of the referendum vote.
“The number one priority given the nature of the decision that was taken last week is to ensure we maintain our relationship with Europe,” he said. “We see our future as being in Europe. That poses huge challenges for British government and Irish Government.”
Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster called on Remain campaigners to accept the decision and get on with the business of getting the “best deal” for Northern Ireland in the exit negotiations.
The DUP leader said she had no regrets about backing Brexit. “The campaign is over, the decision has been taken, we now need to move on to create that stability that of course we all want to see here in Northern Ireland and throughout the United Kingdom,” she said.
At the close of the meetings, Mr Flanagan said: “I outlined the importance of us all working together in the best interests of the people on this island.
“I reiterated the [Irish] government’s commitment to the stability and prosperity of Northern Ireland and how we will seek to highlight the need for the EU to take account of the Northern Ireland dimension in upcoming negotiations in order to minimise any negative impact that may arise.”
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