Britain can't expect "no ramifications" from Brexit, chief whip says

Irish people in the UK are to get 'as much clarity as possible' in Brexit talks

Britain can't expect "no ramifications" from Brexit, chief whip says

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks to British Prime Minister Theresa May at Government Buildings in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty says Britain cannot just pull out of the European Union and "expect to have no ramifications".

The Government says Irish people living in Britain should get "as much legal certainty and clarity as possible" during the negotiations.

It has published guidelines for the forthcoming talks as the UK leaves the European Union.

It is estimated that some 3 million EU citizens are resident in the UK and 1.2 million UK citizens are resident in the EU.

But these figures exclude Irish citizens in the UK and UK citizens in Ireland, as their status and rights are protected under the Common Travel Area arrangements - as well as under EU law.

Safeguarding rights

The document says: "It is the Government's position that all EU and UK citizens, who are understandably very anxious about the future, should be provided with as much legal certainty and clarity as possible on their rights and entitlements at an early stage in the negotiations, and that both sides should be generous in putting the interests of citizens first.

"This is of immense importance in human terms but it would also be an important confidence building step in the negotiations."

The Government says it will push for a strong and unified position on safeguarding the rights of EU citizens and their family members in the UK and vice versa.

Northern Ireland

It says its policy continues to be grounded in the Good Friday Agreement - which gives people in Northern Ireland the right to hold Irish citizenship.

"Given the unique citizenship arrangements for those living in Northern Ireland, it is important that those in Northern Ireland who do exercise their entitlement to Irish citizenship will continue to enjoy their rights as EU citizens," the Government says.

It has also reiterated that it wants to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

A statement agreed by the European Council acknowledges that in the event of a united Ireland, brought about in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement, the entire territory of such a united Ireland would legally be part of the European Union.

"This provides reassurance on this aspect of the agreement, regardless of the status of the UK within the EU", the Government adds.

Economic implications

The Government says it will "intensify" its focus on the economic implications of Brexit to reinforce the competitiveness of the Irish economy, to protect it from potential negative impacts, and pursue all possible opportunities.

It is to prepare a paper on economic implications of Brexit challenge, drawing on the work across government departments to date.

Chief Whip Regina Doherty told Newstalk Drive the Government is ready.

"We know that they're going to be very tough negotiations, we know harsh decisions are going to have to be made over here - but we know what we want in a system or in a process that we didn't choose to be in", she said.

"There are definitely financial implications to the United Kingdom from leaving, there are deals and systems and processes that they signed up to that they can't just pull out and expect to have no ramifications but to continue to enjoy the trade and the economic ties that they currently have today.

"Therein lies the conundrum - but actually I think Ireland is particularly squeezed in the middle of both the EU and our United Kingdom - because it's a special relationship that we enjoy we both".

But she says she hopes this will be "as soft a Brexit as it possibly can be, for everybody's interests".