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.