Hard Brexit could halt Northern Ireland peace process, country's foreign minister claims

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at 2016.11.02
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Hard Brexit could halt Northern Ireland peace process, country's foreign minister claims

Charlie Flanagan, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, said a hard Brexit that encourages “hard” borders could undermine 20 years of normalisation since the end of the Troubles.

Speaking ahead of a Wednesday conference on the implications of Brexit for Ireland, Mr Flanagan urged Theresa May to “engage sensitivity” with other European states.

The Irish Fine Gael politician said: “The concept of a hard Brexit, with a return to ‘hard’ borders is not something that is either desirable or workable from our perspective, because of the border with Northern Ireland.”

He added: “The Peace dividend of the “invisible border” cannot be underestimated.”

Mr Flanagan said that a hard Brexit with an emphasis on border controls could invoke hostility between the north and south if a physical border is reinstated.

Currently, there are 30,000 border crossings per day, which is often seen as a sign of the success of the peace process as border checks were once heavily militarised, reinforcing fear and division.

Mr Flanagan said: “Ireland’s experience has always been that flexibility, pragmatism, and the willingness to understand the views of all sides is helpful in achieving results in any negotiation.

“A willingness to engage sensitively with partners, and trying to understand their perspective is always helpful in finding a manageable solution.”

His comments follow Theresa May’s speech at the Tory party conference last month, in which she promised to end free movement and the jurisdiction of European law.

The Irish politician noted that tariffs or trade restrictions with the UK could be detrimental to Ireland’s economy.

Around €1.2billion worth of trade passes between the UK and Ireland each week and politicians are concerned that a hard Brexit could lead to job losses and falling tax receipts.

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Published at Wed, 02 Nov 2016 15:36:02 +0000

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