Taoiseach and UK PM speak by phone in wake of Brexit result

The Taoiseach says Ireland’s future lies within the European Union

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The Irish and European Union flags hang behind the podium as Taoiseach Enda Kenny makes a statement on the Brexit result | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny and outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron have spoken by phone for 12 minutes in the wake of the UK vote to leave the European Union.

The two men have agreed to initiate immediate talks between Ireland and Britain on key issues such as the Common Travel Area and the border with Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile the Government has published a contingency plan - which includes aiming to attract financial and other firms looking to leave the UK and stay in Europe.

Just after the result was announced Mr Cameron said he was standing down as British prime minister.

Here, an emergency Cabinet meeting was held and the Taoiseach said he was very sorry that the UK had voted for a Brexit.

Enda Kenny clearly stated Ireland's place in Europe and said he would work with the UK for a new relationship.

In his speech he outlined a number of key actions that will now be taken to "address the contingencies arising from the UK’s decision", stating that the primary objective will be to "protect and advance" the interest of Ireland.

'Carefully managed'

Mr Kenny said: "In the immediate term, the Minister for Finance and his officials are in close contact with the Central Bank, the NTMA and our international partners to ensure that any short-term market volatility is carefully managed."

He spoke about the implications for Northern Ireland and said that "relations between North and South" will be a priority for the Irish Government and will require "careful consideration".

"We will approach these issues in the same spirit of partnership that has underpinned the peace process and has transformed relationships on this island since the Good Friday Agreement."

Mr Kenny intends to meet with members of the Northern Ireland Executive on Monday June 27th at the North/South Ministerial Council - where detailed discussions will take place on how to best approach the recent developments.

Common Travel Area

He assured that the "best interests of all of the people of Ireland, North and South" would be maintained.

Issues to be dealt with in the medium term would be that of the Common Travel Area between Britain and Ireland.  

The Taoiseach said: "The Irish Government will do our utmost in upcoming discussions to maintain the Common Travel Area and minimise any possible disruptions to the flow of people, goods and services between these islands."

He also acknowledged the concerns of the Irish community in Britain and said he wanted to "assure them that the Irish Government will also have their interests in our thinking as we approach the forthcoming negotiations".

Mr Kenny also stated that "Ireland will, of course, remain a member of the European Union" as it is "profoundly" in our national interest.

"After more than 40 years of membership, we have built up strong bonds of partnership with all the other member states, and with the European institutions, that will continue to serve us well.

"There will be a discussion of the next steps at the meeting of the European Council next week.

"I will clearly set out our national position at that meeting, and I will ensure that our particular national interests are fully respected as we prepare to enter the next phase of negotiations."

'Breathing space'

He said the negotiations may not happen immediately and until then it is important to remember that Britain remains a member of the European Union until negotiations have been concluded.

"We must take this breathing space...and use it wisely," he added.

The Taoiseach said he is "very sorry" that the UK is to leave the European Union, but he fully respects their decision and expressed his personal best wished to Mr Cameron.

He published the Governments contingency plans, saying we were prepared for this. Those plans include seeking out financial and other firms looking for an EU headquarters.

The Dáil will be recalled on Monday to discuss the Brexit and the issue will top an EU summit in Brussels next week.