Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern: "We're always there to help and support the British in their hour of need"
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Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern: "We're always there to help and support the British in their hour of need"

FORMER Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that the Irish people should be supportive and helpful towards Britain as they go through Brexit.

Ahern also said its incumbent on the British government to ensure Northern Ireland is damaged by Brexit.

The former Fianna Fail leader made the comments during his keynote speech at the John Hume lecture at the Magill Summer School in Glenties, Co. Donegal.

He was greeted with laughter by the crowd when he declared: “As good Irish people we’re always there to help and support the British in their hour of need.

“We’ll continue to do that. If they want our advice and help (they should) do so. Just make sure you don’t do anything to damage us.”

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Ahern’s comments come just days after a war of words ensued between current Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Last week Mr Varadkar threatened to prevent British planes from flying over Ireland post-Brexit, to which the British government labelled him “wrong”.

Furthermore, Ahern warned that Northern Ireland agriculture sector and other sectors will need to be protected post-Brexit, as links to the EU provide a number of benefits.

He said: “It’s a very serious issue. All contracting parties will need to assess how to move these matters in a positive and constructive way.

“The deadline to reach a Brexit deal is very tight. They want these discussions concluded by October. It’s simply not clear that this is going to be the case. Any withdrawal deal has to be approved by the UK houses of parliament and this appears to be a tall order.”

Ahern also said it’s unlikely that the UK would have a rerun of the Brexit referendum given their reaction to Ireland rerunning the Lisbon treaty referendum.

“They slagged us so much in Britain for doing that, so it’s unlikely they’ll do that,” he said.

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“All we can do is continue to help them.”