Northern Ireland

Essential to avoid hard border, says Irish minister Flanagan

Charlie Flanagan
Image caption Charlie Flanagan said it was "absolutely essential" that an open Irish border remains

Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan has repeated calls for a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to be avoided.

Mr Flanagan was speaking on Thursday night after a day of talks at Stormont.

Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty last week, starting a two-year countdown to the UK's exit from the EU.

She said there would be "no return to the borders of the past".

Speaking in Belfast, Mr Flanagan said: "I believe it's absolutely essential that a hard border on the island of Ireland be avoided.

"We have made great strides here, particularly in the context of the peace process and indeed the hard-won gains of the peace process, that's why I'm here in Belfast."

He added: "It's absolutely essential that the open border remain in between north and south.

"Over 30,000 cross that border every day to work or to school or for hospital appointments."

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