President Michael D Higgins has said that it is vital that there is no return to a hard border between the north and south, when Britain leaves the European Union.

He was speaking at a dinner hosted by The Ireland Funds in Sydney, where he is continuing a State Visit to Australia.

The Ireland Funds is a philanthropic network established in 1976 to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland, and Irish-related causes around the world.

Mr Higgins said that the organisation was a "powerful force" for good. He paid particular tribute to practical effects of projects it was supporting "on both sides of a border nobody wants to return".

Mr Higgins said it was helpful to know that was a view shared "across the board in both Britain and Ireland".

He said Ireland was concerned at the circumstances it found itself in as a result of the the vote by British citizens to leave the EU. Mr Higgins said everybody was affected by the decision and that everybody would want a "sensible solution".

He said there were particular concerns around trade, the border and the position of Irish people in Britain.

The President said there had been some movement on clarifying the latter point but he said this was the only progress to report so far.

Mr Higgins continues his State Visit over the weekend, with a final day of engagements in Sydney, before travelling to Brisbane and Warwick, where he will pay his respects to some of his ancestors who travelled to Australia.