Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out a bilateral agreement between Ireland and the UK on their future trading and political relationships ahead of the start of any negotiations between Britain and the EU following this year's Brexit vote.
Speaking following a meeting of the heads of government of the 27 member states remaining in the European Union, Mr Kenny told reporters: "Obviously a bilateral deal is not available in the context of Ireland being a member of the European Union negotiating team.
"We have agreed, because of the Common Travel Area, which has applied since 1922, that nobody should lose any benefits from that, and obviously we have made it very clear to all of the leaders the importance of the peace process, our own economy, Interreg Funds, Peace Funds and no return to a hard border.
"Prime Minister May is very much aware of [all] of these."
Mr Kenny added that "until it becomes clear what sort of relationship the UK actually wants to have with the future European Union, it's then you can make the decisions and negotiate on those decisions after Article 50 is triggered.
"Between this and then it's all speculation, but insofar as we are concerned, on the island of Ireland we want to reflect the intertwining of the economies north and south for many years and what that means, both in terms of goods and people and services and all of that area, and to maintain our trading relationships with the United Kingdom."
Mr Kenny said that any future arrangements on customs checks on the island of Ireland depended on the nature of the relationship Britain was seeking with the EU.
"Is this a relationship that is going to involve the single market as we know it now, or something different?"
The Taoiseach accepted that this could take a long time.
Enda Kenny has ruled out a bilateral deal between Ireland and the UK following an EU summit pic.twitter.com/Jd4su0NvsN— RTÉ News (@rtenews) December 15, 2016
Mr Kenny also said that Theresa May told EU leaders that she wants an early agreement on the status of Britons living on the continent and EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.
The push for an early agreement on the status of citizens comes amid concern from many European leaders about the rights of their nationals in the UK after Brexit.
Mr Kenny also told reporters Ms May updated leaders on the Supreme Court case on Article 50 and her hope for a deal on EU nationals.
"She would like to have the question of UK citizens living in Europe and European citizens living in the UK dealt with in the early part of discussions that take place," he said.