Taoiseach Kenny prosposes all-Ireland Brexit forum and is rebuffed by NI’s Arlene Foster

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s proposed all-Ireland forum to mitigate the negative effects of Brexit has met with a frosty reception from Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster.

Foster has said that such a forum is unnecessary. She was in Dublin this Monday with members of the Northern Executive to attend a meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC). The council discusses areas of common interest between the Republic and Northern Ireland and promotes co-operation between the two governments.

However, despite strong support from Kenny and ministers in his government, the proposed Brexit forum was not one of the topics under discussion. It is believed that Foster had rejected the idea and was unwilling to talk about it further.

Foster told a press conference that there were “more than enough” bodies through which Dublin and Belfast could co-operate, making Kenny’s proposed forum unnecessary.

“I don’t think there’s any mechanisms needed because we can lift the phone to each other,” she said. “We may not agree on small things like mechanisms – we do agree on the need to work together to make the best for our people,” the First Minister said.

Foster also claimed that the forum had not been suggested to her.

“With respect to the forum that seemed to gather steam over the weekend, it wasn’t discussed with me over the weekend, or indeed before, and it wasn’t discussed at the NSMC today,” she said.

Kenny leaves forum invitation open

In contrast, Kenny claimed the idea had been rebuffed, but added that idea could be revised should interest be expressed by Northern Ireland’s government.

NI’s Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin is in favour of the forum, calling it “a good suggestion” and saying it could proceed without the input of the DUP.

“I don’t think there should be a veto,” he said.

However both governments were keen to emphasise that co-operation would continue and that they would work together to find measures to ameliorate the negative effect of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

budget airline

EasyJet to fly away from the UK?

EasyJet, the UK budget airline, may need to move company headquarters to a European city in response to last month’s shock Brexit result.

The airline has applied for an air operator certificate from the European Union to continue using EU air routes if and when the UK formally withdraws from the block.

“EasyJet is lobbying the UK government and the EU to ensure the continuation of a fully liberal and deregulated aviation market within the UK and Europe. This would mean that EasyJet and all European airlines can continue to operate as they do today,” the company said in a statement.

“As part of EasyJet’s contingency planning before the referendum we had informal discussions with a number of European aviation regulators about the establishment of an AOC in an European country to enable EasyJet to fly across Europe as we do today. EasyJet has now started a formal process to acquire an AOC,” it continued.

The airline also noted that it does not need operational or structural changes as of yet, nor is it currently planning to move from Luton. However, should lobbying prove unsuccessful, the airline will consider setting up a new European base of operation. Dublin is seen as an attractive choice by many airlines because of regulatory and tax issues.

EasyJet and others issue profit warnings

The UK’s air travel and banking sectors were particularly impacted by the Brexit result. Ryanair has put new UK connections on hold for the foreseeable future because the uncertainty caused by the Leave vote. More than 25 percent of Ryanair’s sales come from the UK market.

“I don’t think we’ll open up many new lines in the UK for the next 12 or 18 months, until this current uncertainty is removed,” explained Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary.

Aer Lingus, British Airways and EasyJet issued profit-warnings after the June 23 referendum when Sterling sharply fell against the euro. Economic and consumer uncertainty is expected over the summer, negatively impacting airline revenues.