Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Anglo-Irish relations 'at peak'

Prime Minister David Cameron greets Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the door of 10 Downing Street

Anglo-Irish relations are at an "all time high", David Cameron and his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny insisted as they met for talks in Downing Street.

The Taoiseach told the Prime Minister that the Queen's historic visit to the Republic in 2011 had made an "extraordinary" impact on the dealings between the two nations.

Mr Kenny arrived at No 10 for talks focused on visa flexibility, trade and Northern Ireland at the end of a two-day visit to the United Kingdom, which included a visit to Manchester yesterday. He will return to Dublin briefly before heading off to the United States later in the week for talks with president Barack Obama.

Mr Cameron said: "I think we meet at a time when Anglo-Irish relations are at an all time high.

"I think relations between our countries are very, very strong but I still think there is even more we can do to strengthen our ties and strengthen our relationship."

He added: "The economic ties between Britain and Ireland are strong and getting stronger. Both our economies are returning to growth and strenghtening. I think there is a real opportunity to grow from that.

"In terms of trade, we have realised that one of the goals of the last summit we had when we talked about a joint trade mission between Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic and we achieved that in Singapore, which I welcome."

Mr Kenny echoed Mr Cameron's sentiments, agreeing that "relations are at an all time high".

He added: "I do think that the visit of Her Majesty had an extraordinary impact on relations between the two countries.There's a building excitement in terms of the return visit from President Higgens."

The premiers discussed a controversial plan to build thousands of wind turbines in Ireland and export energy to the UK which has faltered.

Mr Kenny said they agreed the British Government "would look energetically" at whether another model could be drawn up but underlined comments made by Irish Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte earlier this week that a deal was unlikely to be reached by the end of the decade.

Mr Kenny added: "Minister Rabbitte is correct in the sense that it is probably not possible to do it in the timescale set out.

"But we have asked the officials following the enthusiasm that was expressed on both sides is it possible to reflect on this again and put in place a different economic structure that might make it viable."

Two companies - Element Power and Mainstream - want to build giant turbines across the Irish Midlands and the I rish and British Governments signed a memorandum of understanding over the sale of the power to the UK.

Mr Kenny said: "We asked the officials at the highest level if they would now take three months to see is it possible to put in place a different kind of economic structure and a different kind of model that might make this become viable."

Asked if the problem was price, he replied: "There are other issues. It's the whole structure of the model. The long term pricing arrangement is obviously one that you have to factor in and there are differences in the sense of having to provide a connector to Britain."

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