Project Brexit

Ireland

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President

Prime Minister

Michael D. Higgins (Labour, since 2011)

Enda Kenny (Fine Gael, since 2011)

Population 4,757,976
Size 84,421 km2 (32,595 sq miles)
MEPs 11 (joined the EU in 1973)
Next presidential election

Next legislative election

2018

By April 2021

Presidency of the Council July – December 2026
Last meeting with Theresa May 10 March 2017 at EU Council Summit
Brexit priorities As the Republic of Ireland will become the EU’s only land border with the UK, so the Government’s main priority is to keep this border with Northern Ireland as open and barrier-free as possible, both for travel and trade. Up to 1 million people cross the border every month.

Ireland has also asked the EU to include in its negotiation strategy a guarantee that Northern Ireland should easily be able to join the EU if it democratically decides it wants to join. The majority of voters in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.

One of the country’s other main priorities will also be to safeguard the peace process between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Despite the close relationship between Ireland and the UK, Irish officials have been clear in stating it will fully support the EU-side throughout the Brexit negotiations.

What Mr Kenny said on Brexit 25 June 2016

“The decision of a majority of people in the United Kingdom to vote to leave the European Union is profoundly disappointing.”

18 July 2016

“Brexit talks should take into account the possibility of a future poll on a united Ireland.”

30 January 2017

“I made clear that, in my view, any manifestation of a hard border would have very negative consequences. For our part, we will continue engage with our EU colleagues on the challenges of Brexit for the peace process, as well as issues arising from the nature and depth of the unique economic and trading ties between Ireland and the UK.”

Minister Flanagan of Foreign Affairs on 9 February 2017

“We are firmly on the side of the EU-27.”                                     

“We don’t subscribe to the view that punishment should be exacted [on the UK].”                                                                      

“I don’t see any positives in the withdrawal from the EU of the UK, for the EU or for the UK.”

Enda Kenny on 10 March 2017 on Brexit divorce bill

“When you sign on for a contract you commit yourself to participation and obviously the extent of that level of money will be determined.”

Minister Flanagan of Foreign Affairs on 6 April 2017

“I believe [Brexit] was a bad decision, but of course as a democrat I fully respect and recognise the will and wishes of the British people. We’ve got to deal with that now.”

“The Article 50 process has commenced, and I believe it’s essential now that we get through the negotiations in such a way that the end result can be as close as possible a relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, albeit with the UK gone.”

Ireland’s priorities The Irish Government’s priorities are to build 25,000 new homes, create 200,000 jobs and reform the budget to allocate €6.75 billion more to public services.

Currently, Ireland is in a political crisis over a convoluted police scandal, due to which Enda Kenny has been facing increasing pressure to stand aside as leader of Fine Gael. He survived a no-confidence vote put forward by opposition party Sinn Fein, but announced on 17 May he is stepping down anyway. A new leader is expected to be chosen by 2 June.

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