Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Enda Kenny promise close relationship between Britain and Ireland post Brexit

Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Enda Kenny promise close relationship between Britain and Ireland post Brexit

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has vowed to maintain close links between Britain and Ireland on his visit to Downing Street.

Meeting new Prime Minister Theresa May for the first time yesterday, Mr. Kenny had been invited to Number 10 to discuss how Britain's decision to leave the European Union might affect Ireland.

Confirming that Ireland would not be following Britain's lead on Brexit, the Taoiseach said: "For our part, we have already made very clear our view Ireland is very much committed to staying in the EU.

"We want the upcoming negotiation process to end with a prosperous and outward-looking UK which retains a close relationship with the EU.  This is in all of our interests," he added.

Northern Ireland as also top of the agenda during the meeting.

"We reiterated the importance of the partnership between our two Governments in supporting the peace process and in contributing to stability and continued progress in Northern Ireland," Mr Kenny said.

"We also discussed the many issues that arise in the context of the outcome of the recent UK referendum on EU membership. While it is not the outcome that we in Ireland wanted, we fully respect the democratic vote of the people of the United Kingdom.

"We will work with the Prime Minister and all our partners in the EU and in the Northern Ireland Executive to make sure we achieve the best possible outcome in forthcoming negotiations.

Ireland is now the only EU Member State to share a land border with the United Kingdom.

'We agreed that we would work together to ensure that the benefits of the peace process are preserved in any new arrangements which might emerge regarding the United Kingdom's future relationship with the EU," Mr Kenny added. "We don't wish to see any return to the borders of the past on the island of Ireland."

The pair also discussed the economic relationship between the two countries.

Prime Minister May explained: "Trade between the United Kingdom and Ireland is worth almost £1billion each week, supporting 400,000 jobs across our islands.

"These economic benefits matter to people across both countries. That’s why we have agreed today that we both want to maintain the closest possible economic relationship in the future."

On Monday, Mrs. May travelled to Northern Ireland to meet with the First Minister, Arlene Foster, and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, where she also expressed her wish not to see a return to hard border between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.