Bertie Ahern: A voice like Michael O'Leary or Peter Sutherland would benefit Brexit talks

The former Taoiseach suggests people from outside politics should take part in the negotiations

Bertie Ahern: A voice like Michael O'Leary or Peter Sutherland would benefit Brexit talks


Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern says Ireland needs to take a 'fairly aggressive' approach to Brexit negotiations as we 'fight very hard' for our position.

His comments come as a group in the House of Lords calls for the Irish and British governments to come up with a plan for the Brexit aftermath together.

The report recommends devolving power over freedom of movement of EU nationals within Northern Ireland to Stormont - while also maintaining the common travel area and the right of free movement for UK and Irish citizens.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Bertie Ahern said: "I do think we have to take a fairly aggressive negotiating position on this." 

He described the controversy surrounding Arlene Foster's comments on the Irish Government's Brexit stance as 'a bit unfortunate'.

"I know the DUP took an anti position - they were 'outers'. But I think if we're to see a proper negotiation in this - whether it's the Norwegian model in the end, or the Swiss model, or the Turkish model - whatever it is, it's in the interest of everyone in the island that we have a good agreement out of this.

"It's not going to be easy [...] The EU are not going to roll over very easy on this. So it's going to be difficult negotiations - and of course I support the Government's efforts to get a good deal," he added.

Mr Ahern argued that there 'probably is nothing' since Ireland joined the EU that 'has been as big as this for the country'.

He believes people should be brought in from outside politics for the talks - and had this response when some well-known names were put to him.

"I think people who are familiar with negotiating international agreements, people who are tough in that business [...] I'm just thinking this is huge - we're talking about billions & trillions of pounds in trade, and we need to be very strong in the kind of people we have," he said.

"Whoever has that knowledge - whether it is Michael O'Leary or a Peter Sutherland, but people who are into that would certainly have my support."