Irish leader calls for united Ireland clause in Brexit deal

Enda Kenny has said that the exit deal between the UK and the EU should include language that would allow Northern Ireland to easily return to the bloc

24 February 2017, 8:33am
Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker (R), Enda Kenny (L) also said he believed that the triggering of article 50 would be 'delayed a little'
Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker (R), Enda Kenny (L) also said he believed that the triggering of article 50 would be 'delayed a little'
Enda Kenny, Ireland’s Prime Minister, is pressing Brussels to include measures in the eventual Brexit deal to allow “ease of access” into the EU for Northern Ireland in the event of Irish reunification under the Good Friday peace agreement.

Citing the example of East Germany’s “seamless” entry into the EU when Germany was reunited in 1990, Mr Kenny said Northern Ireland should receive the same treatment if it ever joins the Irish Republic.

The Good Friday pact of 1998, which largely brought an end to decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, allows for a referendum on reunification where there is reason to believe a majority in the region is in favour.

“In other words, that in such future time, whenever that might be, were it [reunification] to occur, that the north of Ireland would have ease of access to join as a member of the European Union again … We want that language inserted into the negotiated treaty, the negotiated outcome, whenever that might occur,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, Kenny also said he believed that the triggering of article 50 would be “delayed a little”.

It had been widely assumed that Theresa May planned to start the talks at the European council meeting on 9 and 10 March. Kenny said: “We had expected the prime minister was going to move article 50 on a particular date; I think that might be delayed a little.”

Kenny brushed off questions about his own future, saying he was focusing on the political issues caused by the Brexit vote. He is rumoured to be considering stepping down next month after severe criticism of his handling of a crisis in the Irish police force.

“Our focus is on the discussions up ahead and that is our only focus,” Kenny said. “I am focused entirely on the political issues here.”
Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU in the Brexit referendum. In a speech last week, Kenny noted that fewer than 350,000 people voted for Brexit from a population of more than 1.8 million.