Taoiseach Enda Kenny has proposed an all-Ireland forum to mitigate the negative effects of Brexit, but has met with a frosty reception from Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster.
Foster said 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. It also promotes co-operation between the two governments.
Despite strong support from Kenny and his ministers, the proposed Brexit forum was not under discussion. It is believed that Foster rejected the idea and was unwilling to talk about it.
Foster told a press conference that there were “more than enough” bodies through which Dublin and Belfast could co-operate. She therefore felt that Kenny’s proposed forum was 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.
In contrast, Kenny claimed the idea had been rebuffed. He also added that idea could be revised should Northern Ireland’s government express interest.
NI’s Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin is in favour of the forum. He called it “a good suggestion” and said 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. They also claimed that they would work together to ameliorate the negative effect of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.