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Theresa May invited to give address on Brexit to Dail

By Philip Ryan

Prime Minister Theresa May has been invited to make a historic address to the Dail during her state visit to the Republic later this month.

An official invitation was sent by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to Downing Street yesterday.

The Prime Minister is visiting the Republic to begin formal Brexit negotiations with the Taoiseach.

Mrs May would only be the second Prime Minister to speak before the parliament - the first was Tony Blair, who addressed the Dail in 1998.

Invitations to foreign dignitaries to address the Dail are extremely rare and Mrs May would only be 20th leader to be extended such an invitation.

Yesterday, she agreed with her Irish counterpart that Brexit should not lead to a "border of the past" for Northern Ireland.

Theresa May said a key objective is to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU, which gives the UK the widest possible access for trading with and operating within the EU.

The PM said: "The Taoiseach and I, and all parties, are absolutely on the single page on this, that we want to ensure that we have the best possible arrangement that does not lead to a border of the past for Northern Ireland." Elsewhere, the Treasury has suggested that an inter-governmental economic organisation could help tackle tax evasion across the Irish border after Brexit.

Without the European institutions, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), could help facilitate dialogue with the Republic, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee heard.

Ex-IRA gangs and border criminals have profited from fuel and tobacco smuggling for decades and the DUP claims international criminal gangs could take advantage of Brexit.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell added: "My concern is that when we get to the point in two or two-and-a-half years' time, when one state, Northern Ireland, is outside and the Republic of Ireland will still be in it, will there be other further or greater scope for tax evasion?

"Will a multi-million pound industry which has grown up through the Troubles be exacerbated by international criminal gangs using the border?"

A Treasury official told the committee of MPs that within the EU, there were some very different practices for exchange of information.

He said both the UK and Ireland would be concerned to prevent tax avoidance and that dialogue between the countries would continue.

"We also have conversations with other countries through the OECD, all of those things will continue," he added.

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