Ireland looks set to defy the EU by beginning bilateral talks with Britain on the Brexit fallout.
The Taoiseach last night highlighted Ireland’s specific interests and concerns around Britain’s exit to his fellow EU leaders.
Ireland is seeking formal recognition of its special relationship with Britain and is lobbying to have a pivotal role in negotiations given the close links between both nations.
It is understood that many within the EU view Mr Kenny as an experienced leader who has had significant dealings with both Britain and those in Europe and has steered his country out of recession.
A senior official in Jean-Claude Juncker’s administration said: “The Taoiseach is someone who has been around a long time. He is well known in the EU and well respected.”
This was echoed by junior minister Dara Murphy last night who said the Taoiseach would have a “very significant role” in the protracted negotiations, which are expected to take two years.
Mr Murphy, who accompanied the Taoiseach to Brussels, said: “It’s fair to say that all countries irrespective of their size would be aware of our unique position.”
He added that EU leaders recognise the role the Taoiseach had in gaining concessions for Britain ahead of their referendum.
Arriving at the EU council summit Mr Kenny promised to “make the case for Ireland’s national interest in terms of our economy, in terms of our common travel area, in terms of the peace process and an open border with Northern Ireland”.
He appeared to soften his line when he said he is not in favour of Britain pushing negotiations down the line and said “you can’t have a drift into uncertainty here”.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who was also in Brussels yesterday, said there must be a “reasonable timeframe” to starting negotiations.
Meanwhile Ukip leader Nigel Farage said he does not believe there is a need for a hard border between Ireland and the North.
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