Brexit boost for Dundalk as Theresa May states desire to retain Common Travel Area

Brexit boost for Dundalk as Theresa May states desire to retain Common Travel Area

Dundalk has received a major boost today following British Prime Minister Theresa May’s much anticipated address on Brexit.

In her speech Ms May spoke of how she wanted to maintain the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland.

brexitThis had been a major fear of people in Dundalk and other border areas who travel from the Republic of Ireland to the UK and Northern Ireland and vice versa on a regular basis for work purposes.

Ms May said that while she wanted the UK to leave the European Single Market, she wanted cross border trade to continue as well.

On the Common Travel Area, Ms May said: “The United Kingdom will share a land border with the EU and maintaining that common travel area with the Republic of Ireland will be an important priority for the UK in the talks ahead.

“There will always be a special relationship between the UK and Ireland and maintaining a common travel area will be a priority.

“I want Britain to be able to negotiate its own trade agreements but I also want tariff-free trade with Europe and cross-border trade to be as frictionless as possible. That means I do not want Britain to be part of the common commercial policy.”

In response the Irish Government welcomed Ms May’s comments.

In a statement it said: “Prime Minister May has made clear that she wishes to secure the closest possible future economic relationship for Britain with the EU, a goal that Ireland shares.

“For Ireland, the priorities for the negotiation process that lies ahead are unchanged: our economic and trading arrangements, the Northern Ireland Peace Process including border issues, the common travel area, and the future of the European Union.

“In her speech, Prime Minister May highlighted the specific and historic relationship between Britain and Ireland. In this context, she made clear that her priorities include maintaining the common travel area and avoiding a return to a hard border with Northern Ireland, both of which are welcome.

“The alignment between our concerns regarding the economy and trade and the UK objective of the UK to have a close, and friction-free, economic and trading relationship with the EU, including with Ireland is also very important.

“The Government notes that the British approach is now firmly that of a country which will have left the EU but which seeks to negotiate a new, close relationship with it. While this will inevitably be seen by many as a “hard exit”, the analysis across Government has covered all possible models for the future UK relationship with the EU.

“The Government’s preparation is extensive. Important organisational changes have been implemented in Government Departments and Agencies, with additional resources provided in key areas. Preparation to date includes the contingency work done before the UK referendum, intensified analysis and scenario planning carried out across all key sectors since, and extensive stakeholder consultation and engagement including through the all-island Civic Dialogue process.

“The Government is under no illusion about the nature and scale of the Brexit challenge. But it is ready.”

Ms May’s speech was less appreciated by local TD and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams who said Britain was on course for a “hard Brexit”.

He said: “The decision to leave the single market and the customs union sets Britain on course for a hard Brexit. The economic and political implications of this for the people of this island are significant.

Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams

“The British Prime Minister provided no new information about Britain’s approach to the North in respect of Brexit; no willingness to look at a special designated status for the North within the EU; no real role for the devolved governments in the negotiations; and old rhetoric on the future of the Common Travel Area.

“Her remarks on the future of the Common Travel Area contained no new detail.

“As she has said before, Ms May set the future of the border and any arrangements with the island of Ireland in the context of Britain’s determination to control immigration and defend its borders.

“It is difficult to see how this can be accomplished without significant changes to the current border arrangements.

“The British Prime Minister also said that the electorate voted with their eyes open to leave the European Union. She ignores the fact that voters in the north did not. They voted to remain.

“The British Prime Minister also repeated her intention to bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court. Along with her commitment to remove Britain from the European Convention on Human Rights this will have profound implications for the Good Friday Agreement. The role of the European Court and Convention are fundamental to the human rights elements of the Good Friday Agreement.”

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