'Peace and stability should never be taken for granted' – Enda Kenny on Brexit challenges

ENDA Kenny said “serious discussion” would be vital if Ireland was to maintain a “good friendship with the UK” as he revealed serious doubts about Boris Johnson’s attempt at a new Brexit deal.

The former Taoiseach was at the book launch of Enda O’Coneen’s solo circumnavigation of the world in Dublin and compared Brexit to the title of the non fiction work.

“I’m here to launch the book ‘Journey to the Edge’ and Brexit is a bit like that,” Mr Kenny said.

“Obviously the Government are intensely involved in this and I support them in what they’re doing.”

But Mr Kenny added:  “If we are to maintain our good friendship with the UK, which we want, if we want the UK to have an ongoing basis of business with the EU, some serious discussion has to be had over the next couple of weeks.

“Clearly this is serious for our country, our people, the European Union and we have to look at the future and not just a year ahead but 20 and 50 years ahead, there are so many challenges there.

“And fundamentally peace and stability should never be taken for granted.”

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Mr Kenny added: “I listened to Boris Johnson’s speech and obviously it was very enthusiastically received by members of the Conservative party but the consequence of that was with the analysis of the detail.

“Obviously Jean-Claude Junker and chief negotiator Barnier and the EU, have made their initial remarks on it, that there is some serious negotiation to be had here in the time ahead.

“When Michel Barnier was appointed by the Council of which I was then a member, he said, I will be the voice of Ireland at one stage.

“And that solidarity has been very strong since he took up that position and I hope it can be brought to a successful conclusion.

“There’s an intensity of negotiation and discussion going on about this.

“We know what we want but does everyone else knows what they want?

“As a general rule, we should understand that the Good Friday Agreement is an international legally binding agreement.

“I’m quite sure that the British Government, in whatever form, does not want to breach that legally binding and constitutional agreement…which was such an important development of life and society North and South.

“Clearly if a deal is to be had in the next couple of weeks, there are some really serious discussions about the practicality of some of the issues that the Prime Minister referred to.”

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Mr Kenny, who had negotiated with former Prime Minister Theresa May said “the three main issues” agreed between Britain and Ireland pre referendum and up until Johnson’s reign, were “no change to the Good Friday Agreement, In all it’s form, preservation of the common travel area and no hard border.”

“And that was understood by David Cameron, Theresa May, by her Government but not by the House of Commons in which sovereignty is vested,” he added.

“That exposes a different legal argument about how far you can take that sovereignty because you don’t want the House of Commons to pass laws to be against the general benefit of society and you have to have a system determined by the British Supreme Court of what is in the interest of the two Governments and what decisions are legal and not legal.”

Mr O’Coineen book catalogues his qualification as the first ever Irish competitor in the Vendee Globe Around the World Race and his finishing third in the solo Trans-Atlantic Race as part of the World Series. 

A core theme of the book is how society is increasingly making more rules, one of the influences he believes led to Brexit.

  • The book is €14.95 and available at all good bookshops, online and on Kindle.

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