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Dismay in Republic of Ireland as Brokenshire left out of Brexit cabinet

Published 17/10/2016

On request: James Brokenshire
On request: James Brokenshire

Prime Minister Theresa May has been strongly criticised by Irish politicians after it emerged her powerful Brexit cabinet committee has no permanent slot for the Secretary of State to Northern Ireland James Brokenshire.

Mr Brokenshire will instead attend meetings of the committee, which is mapping out Britain's exit from the European Union, at the request of Ms May.

Several senior Tory politicians who campaigned for Brexit have in contrast been handed permanent slots.

These include Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and David Davis, the Secretary of State for exiting the EU.

Mr Davis was recently in Dublin to discuss the prospect of changes to the border as a result of Brexit.

However, it's emerged that the secretaries of state for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales do not have permanent attendance.

Instead, they will attend meetings the European Union Exit and Trade Committee "as required".

Fianna Fail last night hit out at the revelation that Mr Brokenshire is not one of the 12 permanent members.

The party's foreign affairs spokesperson Darragh O'Brien described the decision as a "new departure" and said the Irish government must now register its concern.

"This is a deeply worrying development and further proof that Northern Ireland is not a priority for the Tory government," Mr O'Brien said.

"It's a new departure quite frankly and we will be raising our concerns in the strongest possible terms with the British government because its clear Northern Ireland is not on their radar."

Questions over the north-south border have been rampant since the UK voted to leave the European Union, with fears that border controls would have to be put in place to control immigration.

But it emerged last week the UK is hoping to move frontline immigration controls to Irish ports and airports to avoid enforcing a 'hard border' between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The proposed measures would be mainly aimed at non-Europeans wishing to enter the common travel area.

The House of Lords committee looking at the implications of Brexit on UK/Irish relations will hold hearings today and tomorrow in Belfast and Dublin.

Among the witnesses to give evidence at Stormont today will be SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt.

Belfast Telegraph

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