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Brexit: Polish PM Szydlo rejects Kenny plea for special status for Republic of Ireland

By Kevin Doyle

The Republic's push for special status in the negotiations over Britain's exit from the EU suffered a setback yesterday when the Polish prime minister refused to back the move.

Beata Szydlo said issues surrounding Northern Ireland were just one of "many questions" that would have to be addressed in the forthcoming discussions.

Speaking after a two-hour meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Poland, Ms Szydlo said the two countries shared many common interests in relation to the EU. In particular, she said Poland, like the Republic, was adamant that EU citizens in the UK should continue to enjoy the same rights in the post-Brexit era.

"We agreed that there can be no limitations whatsoever with regard to trade," Ms Szydlo explained.

But when asked about Mr Kenny's desire for special recognition for Ireland, she replied: "We are only at the start of the process of Great Britain leaving the European Union. There are a lot of questions being raised.

"There are questions that will have to be answered in the conduct of the process."

Mr Kenny told the same Press conference that Ireland would feel the impact of Brexit more heavily than any other country.

"The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are both the places most adversely affected by Brexit, and we need to be imaginative and creative as to how we deal with the situation," he said.

"It does give us a special situation, which is increasingly recognised in Europe."

The Taoiseach's trip to Poland was the latest in a series of EU visits to brief leaders on Brexit. He has already travelled to Spain and Malta.

Mr Kenny said he explained the "set of circumstances in Ireland" to the Polish prime minister.

"We are the only place in the EU where there is a peace process supported by both the European Union and the United States, and this gives us special status as it is," Mr Kenny added.

Both leaders, however, agreed the EU needed major reforms on the back of the Brexit negotiations if it is to survive.

"The European Union has to better respond to the needs of its citizens and it has to react more efficiently to the challenges they are facing," Ms Szydlo said.

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