The 29th March marked the next milestone in the UK’s process of departing the European Union as Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50.
We were pleased to see that Prime Minister May's letter included important references to Ireland and Irish issues, as noted in the Government Statement in response to the triggering. As Minister Flanagan’s statement in reaction to Prime Minister May’s letter makes clear, this moment marks the beginning of a long and complex set of negotiations but Ireland is ready for these negotiations.
The draft guidelines for the negotiations circulated by President Tusk, on behalf of the EU 27 Heads of State and Government, also included strong acknowledgement of our unique circumstances as did the European Parliament’s Resolution on Brexit, a fact welcomed by Minister Flanagan.
It has always been clear that the UK's departure from the Union will have significant economic, political and social implications for Ireland. Accordingly, the Irish Government has been preparing extensively for the negotiations between the UK and the EU. Since June 2016, there has been a comprehensive programme of engagement with our European partners and EU institutions to ensure an awareness of Ireland’s unique circumstances and the need to address these in the negotiations. This ‘Brexit by numbers’ infographic give a sense of the extent of engagement across Government on this matter.
Minister Flanagan has had over 100 engagements since the referendum including with every Foreign Minister in the EU and with the Commission negotiating team led by Michel Barnier.
Visits from Irish Ministers to Britain to meet their UK counterparts and Irish community organisations continue to take place on a regular basis. In these meetings, the status of the Irish community in Britain continues to be an important topic. We remain committed to ensuring that the interests of the community are heard.
At the Embassy, we will continue to maintain close contact with the Irish community all over this country and I am open to hearing from you about any concerns that may arise in the period ahead. You can find our contact information here – https://www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/great-britain/contact-us/
The Irish government are providing updates on a range of Brexit issues and you can sign up for email updates here. We have also produced the following information note on the next steps for Article 50 and our Brexit priorities booklet is a very useful source of information on our key issues of concern.
You will all be aware of the increased interest in Irish citizenship and passports in the wake of the referendum. I am delighted that as part of the passport reform programme, we have now launched online passport renewals for adults which will improve and speed up the process when renewing your passport. The service is convenient, secure and offers faster and more predictable turnaround times.
If you would like to hear more on this subject, I will be at the Luton Irish Forum discussing the possible implications for Ireland and the Irish in Britain of Brexit on Thursday 13th April. You can register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/brexit-and-the-irish-community-tickets-31694689670?aff=es2
Le meas agus gach dea ghuí,