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.
Michel Barnier is on a two-day visit to the Republic of Ireland, during which he will travel to the land border with Northern Ireland.
As the only land boundary between the UK and the EU, it could be the place where their divorce is most keenly felt.
Mr Barnier has already stated that the future of the Irish border will feature in the first phase of withdrawal negotiations.
Setting about the European Commission’s guidelines last week, he referred to the “unique circumstances and challenges” of Ireland in the wake of the peace process and Good Friday Agreement.
He acknowledged that it would “require flexible and imaginative solutions”.
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At Fitzpatrick’s pub, between Carlingford and Dundalk, people said they would welcome a visit from the man who will negotiate on the EU’s behalf.
The business is in the Republic but is just four miles from the border with Northern Ireland and the owner is keen to hear the EU’s thoughts on the direction of Brexit travel.
Danny Fitzpatrick said: “Fifty percent of our customers would come from Northern Ireland, if not more, but no one has given us answers on this soft border or hard border or whatever it’s going to be.
“We’ve heard a lot of talk on the media about it but nobody has actually come and said to us what is going to happen.”
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Mr Barnier will make a second speech during his time in Ireland, to a European People’s Party (EPP) summit in County Wicklow.
Former prime minister Tony Blair will also participate in a panel discussion at the gathering of centre-right pro-European parties from 40 countries.