Later today, the Secretary of State, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, will travel to Dublin for meetings with key political, business, energy sector and tourism figures to discuss the challenges facing Northern Ireland and Ireland in this period of economic and political change.
This evening, HM Ambassador, Robin Barnett, will host a working dinner for the Secretary of State alongside business, political and academic figures. Discussions are likely to focus on issues around the UK exiting the EU and the impact that will have on Ireland’s relationship with the UK in terms of cross border trade, and the need for a smooth transition which minimises disruption to UK-Ireland trading relationships.
Tomorrow morning, Mr Brokenshire will attend a business breakfast with Tourism Ireland. He will discuss the importance of the tourism industry on both sides of the border, and stress the UK Government’s determination to continue working with the Irish Government to maintain the status quo in respect of the movement of people between our islands as part of the UK’s negotiation to leave the EU.
The Secretary of State will hold political meetings with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, and Micheàl Martin TD, Leader of Fianna Fail.
Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Brokenshire said:
My visit to Dublin comes at an important time, with the UK Government on course to trigger Article 50 by the end of March, which will begin our negotiations to exit the European Union. When the Prime Minister visited Dublin at the end of last month, she set out clearly the UK’s key objectives in the negotiations that lie ahead. She also acknowledged the importance of the unique relationship between the UK and Ireland.
As Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, I am acutely aware that the ability to move and trade freely across the border is an essential part of daily life for people and businesses on both sides of the Border, and the UK Government recognises the importance of finding a practical solution that reflects the unique economic, social and political context of the border. We want to see trade and travel continuing to be as frictionless as possible.
In seeking to protect and advance Northern Ireland’s interests, the Government has sought to engage fully with the Northern Ireland Executive, and will continue to do so in the future. It is vital the Common Travel Area and excellent economic links with Ireland are maintained, and both issues will be significant priorities for the UK in the talks ahead.
I also welcome the opportunity to meet Minister Flanagan to discuss the current period of political uncertainty in Northern Ireland and reinforce the commitment of both the UK and Irish Governments to bring forward the bodies to address the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past, as well as ensuring the establishment of a stable devolved government in a Northern Ireland that works for everyone.