Hollande and Kenny call for UK to exit "as soon as possible"

The French president was in Ireland to discuss Brexit and the recent security concerns in Europe

French president Francois Hollande met with the Taoiseach today in Government Buildings to discuss the fallout from the EU referendum and the current security issues in France and across Europe.

In a press conference following the meeting, both leaders reiterated their commitment to the principles set out by the 27 Heads of State on June 29th in relation to Brexit.

They both insisted that Britain should begin the process of leaving the European Union "as soon as possible" and welcomed the notification by them to withdraw.

The Taoiseach also said that they had both agreed, during their meeting, on the importance of maintaining the "closest possible partnership between the EU and the UK based on rights and obligations".

They also acknowledged that Ireland and France are the UK’s nearest neighbours, with significant and complex economic, human, cultural and historical links and as a consequence both countries have specific concerns to address in future talks.

President Hollande reiterated this point and added that there is a unique case for Ireland in the Brexit negotiations and that the Good Friday Agreement was of particular importance.

"There is a special situation for Ireland and it has to find a place in the negotiations," he said.

Security Concerns in Europe

At the beginning of the press conference, the Taoiseach reiterated the sympathy and solidarity of the Irish people with France in the wake of the terror attack in Nice on July 14th.

Enda Kenny said he appreciated Hollande's commitment to the visit given the current situation in France.

The meeting in Government Buildings was attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the French President François Hollande, the French Minister for State for European Affairs Harlem Désir, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan and Dara Murphy who is the Minister of State for European Affairs, Data Protection and the EU Digital Single Market.

Kenny said that President Hollande briefed him on the current security situation and on the French Government’s response, and the two leaders agreed on the urgent need to accelerate ongoing work on a range of EU counter-terrorism measures to "promote the closest and most effective cooperation between police and security services".

They also agreed that the best way of asserting and protecting Europe’s fundamental values is to "refuse to bow to terrorism" and its assault on those values.

President Hollande said that up to 25 nationalities had been affected by the Nice attack and that we all must be united against terrorism.

The French leader is now having lunch in Dublin and will then travel to the Aras to meet with Michael D. Higgins.

After that he will return to Paris to meet with the new British Prime Minister Theresa May.