We must not forget there is so much more to the Irish British narrative, says Ireland’s new Ambassador
Ireland should not allow Brexit to detract from the historically good relations it enjoys with its closest neighbour, its new Ambassador to the UK has warned.
In an introductory interview with the Irish World, some weeks before he formally presents his credentials to Buckingham Palace, the new Ambassador Adrian O’Neill warns “don’t let Brexit suck all the air out of the room”.
The former head of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs Anglo Irish division, speaking at the Embassy, said: “I expect Brexit to preoccupy and take up an awful lot of my time and rightly so. “But I do think it’s going to be a marathon and not a sprint, in terms of managing this issue and engaging with this issue and nudging it in the right direction, the best possible direction for Irish British relations.
“Precisely because it’s going to be a marathon we have to be careful that we don’t let it suck all the oxygen out of the room and that the Irish British narrative is not only about Brexit.
“In terms of the work that we’re doing here we need to showcase all of the other positive things that are going on in the relationship and to talk about them and to make sure that they are acknowledged and celebrated.”
Mr O’Neill’s remarks came as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his Dutch counterpart Prime Minister Mark Rutte intervened to warn other EU leaders at last week’s summit in Brussels to give Prime Minister Theresa May some leverage with her own cabinet and MPs.
Reports from various sources suggested that their warning was well received and endorsed by the Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
“As I arrive people are saying that the relations between Britain and Ireland have never been so good.
“I’d be very happy if at the end I leave here and people are still saying that relations between Britain and Ireland have never been as good,” he says.