As we move towards a new phase in our relationship with the United Kingdom, Anglo-Irish relations must be prioritised by the Government, Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond has said.
Deputy Richmond said: “With our shared border, our shared commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and our trade links worth over €1 billion per week, the Anglo-Irish relationship is vital and must be maintained and expanded as we move forward in our post-Brexit relationship.
“Prior to Ireland and the UK’s EU Membership our Government Ministers met perhaps annually, whereas now meetings and phone calls between counterparts take place regularly.
“Now that the UK has left the EU, we have entered into a new phase in our relationship where new structures must be put in place to ensure the growth of this relationship.
“We absolutely cannot return to the days of sporadic contact between Ireland and the UK.”
Deputy Richmond continued: “Although trade relations and much else will be decided on an EU-U.K. basis, Ireland has a unique opportunity to have a special bilateral relationship with the U.K. primarily through the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. These options must be pursued intensely.
“The Programme for Government commits to a strategic review of the British-Irish relationship in 2020/2021. This must be prioritised by the new Government and should aim not only to maintain the existing relationship but to expand it.
“The British-Irish Parliamentary Association, the North-South Inter-Parliamentary Association, the North-South Ministerial Council and the British-Irish Council are crucial links between our countries. Our commitment to these organisations must be at the fore of our relationship with the UK. It is through our commitment to these organisations that allows for our relationship to grow stronger.
“As Ireland looks to forge new relationships with other EU Member States and indeed countries outside of the EU, we must not forget our relationship with our closest neighbour.
“Once opened, the planned Consulate in the north of England, an area with close ties to Ireland, will be a clear example of our commitment to this relationship.
“With the Brexit transition period nearing its end, the sooner the strategic review of British-Irish relations takes place the better. Our relationship with the UK has certainly been tested over the past four years, but the solid foundations have allowed it to grow, as it will continue in the future,” Deputy Richmond concluded.