Government to seek “legal recognition of the unique status of the North” in bid to avoid a hard border

Government to seek “legal recognition of the unique status of the North” in bid to avoid a hard border

The Irish Government are set to seek a “legal recognition of the unique status of the North and the circumstances on the island” as part of the arrangement when Britain leaves the European Union.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan told The Irish Times today that they would seek special status for Northern Ireland as a solution to avoid the threat of a hard border between north and south.

The news comes just 24 hours after Minister Flanagan had warned that a hard border with the North “cannot be ruled out” in the wake of Brexit.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Mr Flanagan stressed the need for the Brexit negotiations to take account of the Belfast Agreement, under which all citizens in the North are entitled to an Irish, and therefore an EU, passport.

“The Good Friday Agreement is a document that is going to have to be on the table at the negotiations,” he said.

Mr Flanagan has been engaged in intensive diplomacy with his EU counterparts in recent months and he said the “unique position” of the North was “appreciated”. However, senior officials say it will be a considerable challenge to transform that into a legally binding agreement that recognises a special status for the North.

Today the Government will decide to set up an “All-Island Civic Dialogue”, to be held in Dublin on November 2nd, which will involve political parties, civic organisations, trade unions, business groups and non-governmental organisations from North and South.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will also bring a memorandum to Cabinet today on Brexit issues in which he will outline the proposal to Ministers.

Read the full story here.

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