UK PM May making first official trip to Dublin next month
Theresa May will make her first official visit to the Irish capital next month.
The Prime Minister is to hold a summit with Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the UK's exit from the European Union.
Mr Kenny confirmed yesterday that Mrs May would come to Dublin towards the end of January to discuss the issues surrounding Brexit.
High on the agenda will be its implications for the future of the relationship between the UK and Ireland.
Ms May failed to rule out a change in status for Irish people living in the UK when she answered questions on Brexit earlier this week.
She appeared to link their future with that of UK citizens living in EU countries.
Responding, Mr Kenny pointed out that the rights of Irish citizens in Britain had been acquired over "a very long period".
"The common travel area is not just for social reasons and travel reasons, but is also for work opportunities," he said.
The Taoiseach explained that Mrs May had spoken of how she wanted the question of the rights of British citizens living in the EU to be dealt with early in Brexit negotiations.
"That is separate from the traditional rights and relationship that Ireland has with the UK and they with us," he added.
Mr Kenny outlined what he has already agreed in principle with Ms May - that there will be no return to a 'hard' border and "no derogation from the benefits of the Common Travel Area".
He said: "These are very important principles that have been built up between Britain and Ireland for a very, very long time indeed."
Mr Kenny added that he hoped the Prime Minister's looming visit would provide "greater clarity... as to the position that Britain are moving towards in terms of the kind of relationship they want to have with the European Union after Article 50 is triggered".
News of the visit was announced as it was revealed that Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida was also set to visit Ireland next month in the first such trip for 25 years.