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Taoiseach Enda Kenny to hold talks on Brexit without DUP

Published 28/09/2016

Enda Kenny will host the forum within weeks
Enda Kenny will host the forum within weeks

Enda Kenny will host all-Ireland talks on the impact of Brexit within weeks, but the DUP will not be there.

The Republic's Taoiseach said the "all-island, all-Ireland conversation" in November would involve businesspeople, political representatives and more.

Details of the gathering will be revealed in the "near future", he told the Irish parliament yesterday.

Mr Kenny also warned that the process of Britain leaving the EU could take much longer than expected.

"I fear that this will run for quite some time," he said. "It might not be as straightforward as many people think."

The DUP has signalled that it will not take part in any all-island forum. First Minister Arlene Foster rejected suggestions of an all-island Brexit forum at the last North-South Ministerial Council meeting at Dublin Castle in July.

A party spokesman said there was no need for new structures and that cross-border talks could be carried out within the existing arrangements.

He added: "With reports that Article 50 may be triggered early in 2017, ensuring that Northern Ireland's voice is at the heart of Brexit negotiations is vital.

"We have already had an assurance from the Secretary of State for Leaving the EU that this will be the case."

But under questioning from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in the Dail, Mr Kenny confirmed that he was pressing ahead with the talks.

"It is my intention to convene an all-island, all-Ireland conversation about this, obviously to which businesspeople, members of civic society and political parties will be invited," the Taoiseach said.

Mr Kenny added that the outcome of June's referendum had sparked a great deal of confusion and uncertainty and was a matter of the utmost seriousness and concern to Ireland's interests.

Mr Adams claimed the entire post-Good Friday Agreement architecture was under threat because of the "British government's insistence on dragging the people of the North out of the EU against their wishes".

A majority of voters in Northern Ireland backed remaining within the bloc.

"It is very important that we send a very clear message that the vote of the people of the North must be respected," Mr Adams said.

Belfast Telegraph

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