Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny fires shot at EU to stop rumours of 'punishment'
In a direct shot at Brussels, Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny said it was deeply unwise to consider trying to damage the country for deciding to leave the union.
Mr Kenny called for a transitional agreement to ease the damage likely to be caused by the split, on Wednesday.
Threats to Ireland’s economy of a harsh Brexit have sparked a strong reaction from Mr Kenny whose nation's economy is most at risk from the decision to quit the bloc.
Mr Kenny said the government would seek the "closest possible" economic relationship between the EU and the UK.
Enda Kenny will be watching Theresa May closely as he tries to ensure safety for Ireland
Whether in London, Brussels, or anywhere else, talk of punishment or of cliff edges is deeply unwise and can only be harmful to everybody in Europe
In a speech in Dublin he said: ”From my own contacts with other leaders, I believe that there will be significant support for that position at the European Council, provided it is based on a level playing field.
"Whether in London, Brussels, or anywhere else, talk of punishment or of cliff edges is deeply unwise and can only be harmful to everybody in Europe.”
Talks of "punishment" have come from several European leaders, while some governments fear an attractive deal for Britain might lead others to follow suit.
Mr Kenny also said the EU should secure "an appropriate period of transition, during which the full legal framework for that new relationship can be concluded”.
The premier said it was of "vital national interest" for Ireland to avoid the re-establishment of a physical border or customs controls between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
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Enda Kenny is hoping to win over EU leaders
And he said that Dublin would seek to represent the interests of Irish passport holders in Northern Ireland following the collapse of the power-sharing government there last month.
He said: ”There is a very real danger that the absence of political leadership in Northern Ireland will lead to a retreat to partisan debate and an even greater marginalisation of Northern Ireland's concerns.”