Taoiseach rules out pre-Brexit bilateral deal for Ireland

Enda Kenny was speaking after a European Council meeting

Taoiseach rules out pre-Brexit bilateral deal for Ireland

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (left) arrives in Brussels for a European Council meeting | Image: © European Union

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out looking for a side deal with the UK before the Brexit talks begin.

Mr Kenny says Ireland has to act hand-in-hand with the other 26 countries who will be staying within the European Union.

The UK House of Lords has suggested a bilateral deal with Ireland would be the best way to guarantee the future of Northern Ireland and the border.

But leaving a summit of EU leaders in Brussels Thursday, Mr Kenny said that is not possible.

"I think that the European Council are very clear that there won't be any negotiations until Article 50 is triggered.

"Her request today was that it would be early in the discussions and obviously at official level and at the (EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel) Barnier level I'm sure that's a matter that will come into focus when she moves Article 50", he said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the UK would formally withdraw from the EU in March.

She also said she would prioritise the status of British citizens working in the EU, as well as EU citizens in the UK.

But Mr Kenny said there was no firm response to Mrs May's outline.

"She would like to have the question of UK citizens living in Europe and European citizens living in the UK dealt with the early part of discussions that will take place.

"Now there wasn't any response, because it was only an update and a briefing from the Prime Minister".