The European Union will be sensitive to Ireland’s desire to preserve the “invisible border” and maintain close relations with post-Brexit UK, the Republic’s foreign minister has claimed.
Charlie Flanagan insisted other EU partners understood the nature and importance of the close link between Ireland and the UK.
In the wake of the referendum, concerns have been expressed on both sides of the Irish border that movement of trade and people will be negatively impacted when the UK leaves the EU.
The future of the Common Travel Area (CTA), which has allowed people to travel freely around the island since partition, has been the subject of intense public debate.
While the governments in Dublin, Belfast and London have expressed a desire to keep the border as open as possible, the EU member states will ultimately have to agree to the shape of what will become of one of the Union’s external frontiers.
Addressing the Diplomatic Corp – Irish-based ambassadors representing 75 countries – Mr Flanagan highlighted the “crucial role” the EU played in the peace process. He said while the contribution of the EU to reconciliation projects in Northern Ireland would be missed, he stressed that the peace that had been achieved would remain “embedded and irreversible”.
On Ireland’s National Day of Remembrance, the minister told the ambassadors: “Without doubt, the period ahead will be very challenging for the European Union as it seeks to ensure that the United Kingdom remains a close partner while at the same time working to deliver even more effectively on the priority concerns of its citizens.”
He added: “I have spoken to several of my EU counterparts in recent days and I will continue these conversations over the coming weeks. I know that our EU partners understand well the uniquely close nature of Ireland’s relations with the United Kingdom and that, in the spirit of accommodation which characterises the European Union, they will be sensitive to our concerns which include the exceptionally close relationship between these islands, the sharing of a land border, the unique status of our citizens in the United Kingdom and, of course, the implications for the peace process...”
Mr Flanagan said the Irish government “deeply regretted” the outcome of the referendum but respected the result.