Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expects the UK to leave the European Union at the end of March with a withdrawal deal, though his Government continues to prepare for “for all outcomes”, including a no-deal Brexit.
Addressing more then 300 international bankers and finance executives at a conference in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said it was necessary to ensure that there will be no return to a hard border between the Republic and the North and that the peace process will be protected.
“We very much value the backing we have received from political and business leaders all over Europe, who recognise the importance of protecting the Irish peace process and the need to avoid the hard border on the island of Ireland, something much more important than money and jobs,” he said.
Mr Varadkar said that while the political response from many countries to an increasingly complicated world is often to seek “to retreat, to take back control, to take your country back” to a world that never existed, this is not the approach of the Government or wish of the Irish people.
“At a time when attitudes to global free trade and multinationalism are hardening in many parts of the world, Ireland is holding firm to our values,” Mr Varadkar said, reaffirming Ireland’s commitment to the EU and maintaining an open economy.
While the Government is on course to run a budget surplus this year “provided Brexit does not blow us off course”, it does have the capacity to run a deficit if necessary to deal with the potential fallout, he told the event, hosted by IDA Ireland and the Financial Times.