EU's chief Brexit negotiator to address Dáil and Seanad

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Europe's chief Brexit negotiator will address a joint sitting of the Irish Parliament today, an honour usually only afforded to visiting heads of states.

Ireland is anxious that Brexit could prove hugely disruptive to its economy due to its strong trade links with Britain.

Among all the EU nations, Ireland has particular concerns about Brexit, focused on its strong trade ties with Britain and also its border with Northern Ireland - the only EU-UK land border.

"Based on my experience in the past, and all that we're hearing now, I have more confidence in Michel Barnier's motivation to respect and reflect the principles and precepts of the Good Friday Agreement in the forthcoming negotiations than the British government's confused impulses".

Barnier repeated that the border issue was one of his three priorities for the Brexit talks, together with the rights of European Union citizens living in Britain and London's exit bill.

"I experienced it first hand myself when I flew to Dublin yesterday night on a rather well-known low-priced carrier", Barnier said. Dublin is seen as a popular choice, with large corporates such as JPMorgan seeking to set up shop there. Prime Minister Theresa May has accused some European Union officials of trying to influence the election, after details of her reportedly fractious meeting with a top European Union official was leaked.

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In the speech Barnier, who is known to be a strong opponent of any soft bargain with a Brexit UK, will signify Irish interests as "top priority" in the EU's negotiation process. "Nothing in this negotiation should put peace at risk".

Over the Past 150 years or so, it was frequently said that as soon as Britain found an answer to the Irish question, the Irish changed the question.

"If the conditions are right, a close partnership with the United Kingdom is in everybody's interest".

"We have to use our combined strength", he said, "and deliver solutions that benefit all member-states".

Barnier said returning to the "instability of the past" would be avoided and acknowledged that Ireland was in a "unique position" regarding the negotiations.

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