Kenny: 'Major trade barriers' will exist between Ireland and the UK if agreement cannot be reached
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said major trade barriers will have to exist between Ireland and the United Kingdom, if agreement on Brexit cannot be reached within two years writes Irish Examiner Political Editor Daniel McConnell.Mr Kenny was speaking at the Oireachtas Finance committee to discuss the budget for his department but the session was dominated by the vote in the UK last week and the ensuing political chaos.Mr Kenny strongly rejected claims that he ignored the plight of people of Northern Ireland when he argued on behalf of Scotland at the EU Summit this week, when he spoke up on behalf of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.“I am not representing Scotland, I reject completely that I didn’t put Ireland first,” Mr Kenny in response to Sinn Fein’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty.“14 minuMy interests are Northern Ireland’s interests, first and foremost says,” he added.Mr Kenny warned that if agreement on how Brexit will be achieved, then trade barriers in line with the World Trade Organisation rules will have to apply, but Mr Kenny said he wished that would not happen.“I dont want to see a hard border between Northern Ireland and here, but if we have to deal with that then deal with it we will,” Mr Kenny said.Mr Kenny was pressed hard by Mr Doherty, given the uncertainty, does he have a contingency plan to deal with that.The Taoiseach, in testy exchanges with Mr Doherty, said contingency plans do exist but insisted his priority was to ensure that the Common Travel Area remains.“My plan is to maintain the common travel area and not to have a hard border. That is my plan but I do not have complete control on this. I do not know the intentions of the next British,” he said.Mr Kenny appeared to contradict previous comments made by his Chief Whip Regina Doherty and MEP Brian Hayes that Ireland would leave the EU, were we to lose control of our corporation tax rates.Asked by Mr Doherty if he agreed with his party colleagues, Mr Kenny was clear: “Certainly not. We will not leave the European Union,” he said.Mr Kenny, under questioning from Labour TD Sean Sherlock, said the Citizens Assembly, which will discuss the issue of abortion will be established a month earlier than planned.Mr Sherlock argued that he and Mr Kenny were sitting in the Citizens Assembly, the Dail, and that was the appropriate body to deal with the abortion issue.