Taoiseach Enda Kenny promises there will be “no immediate change” to the free flow of people, goods or services between Ireland and Britain following the British vote to leave the European Union.
But Mr Kenny has dismissed suggestions that a border poll for a united Ireland should be held in the north and here in the wake of referendum, saying there was “no evidence” of support for such a vote.
Mr Kenny said he was “sorry” that Britain had voted to leave the union and later had a phone conversation with British prime minister David Cameron, who has said he will step down in the coming months.
Speaking following an emergency Cabinet meeting at Government buildings, Mr Kenny said: “I want to assure the Irish public that we have prepared to the greatest extent possible for this eventuality. There will be no immediate change to the free flow of people, goods and services between our islands.”
There is debate about whether border posts will be reinstated following the Brexit vote or whether movement between the two countries will be restricted.
Mr Kenny said the main concern is the potential impacts for trade and the economy, for the North, for the common travel area and for the union itself.
Future negotiations about Britain’s exit will also take account of the concerns of Irish people living across the water, said the Taoiseach.
Mr Kenny is due to attend an EU leaders’ meeting next week, at which Brexit will be discussed among the union members.
“I will clearly set out our national position at that meeting and I will ensure that our particular national interests are fully respected as we prepare to enter the next phase of negotiations,” he added.
Despite Brussels yesterday insisting that a quick Brexit was needed for Britain, Mr Kenny said he supported British prime minister David Cameron’s decision to postpone triggering an exit until at least after his successor takes over later this year.
There is some “breathing space” now which should be used “wisely”, he said.
Mr Kenny was asked about calls by Sinn Fein and others for a border poll or united Ireland referendum, as is allowed under the Good Friday Agreement. This has been raised especially given the fact that the north actually voted to remain in the EU, even though the overall vote in Britain was to leave.
Mr Kenny said that under the terms of the agreement, there can only be a border poll if the north’s secretary of the day considers a “majority” of people want such a vote.
“There is no such evidence, there are much more serious issues to deal with in the immediate term, that’s where our focus is,” he told reporters yesterday.
The Taoiseach also said it is up to Britain to implement Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which essentially triggers an exit.
“I respect that fully,” he said.
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