Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny has indicated that British Prime Minister Theresa May could trigger Article 50, which is the announcement date for a formal plan for the UK to leave the European Union, much earlier than the March 2017 deadline she has already fixed.
Mr Kenny made the remarks as part of an unscripted comment towards the end of this morning’s first session of the All-Ireland Civic Dialogue on Brexit which is being held in Dublin. The seminar is a cross-border gathering of politicians, business leaders, community representatives and other representative groups. The seminar is notable for the absence of the two main Unionist parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). However, the other main Northern Ireland parties, Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Alliance party have all sent their representatives.
One portion of good news which has already been confirmed by Mr Kenny is that the Common Travel Area will be preserved. Mr Kenny went on to say that while the deadline is March, the process could start as early as December or January.
So what are the main points from today so far?
- Article 50 could be triggered as early as next month.
- The Common Travel Area is preserved.
- Kenny said he “acknowledges” that Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU in June’s referendum.
- Northern Ireland and the peace process would be the first priority for Dublin in the upcoming negotiations between Britain and the remaining 27 EU leaders over the terms of Brexit: Enda Kenny.
- Northern Ireland’s two main unionist parties did not attend.
- UK ministers pushing a “crude and chaotic” Brexit agenda: Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin.
- The forum should “not be about a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit. It needs to be about moving beyond the consequences of Brexit and looking at alternatives”: Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams
- A referendum on Irish unity, but also suggested a “designated special status” for Northern Ireland, citing other unique EU arrangements like Denmark/Greenland: Gerry Adams
- The Alliance party favours decoupling the Brexit debate from such argument: newly elected leader of Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party Naomi Long speaking about the possibility of a border poll on Irish unity.
- Would like the referendum to be run again in the hope that it would produce a different result: Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.