A new report in the UK suggests Ireland needs to consider leaving the EU post Brexit.
The report from the Policy Exchange think tank argues that allowing the EU to negotiate on behalf of Ireland as one of the remaining 27 EU member states is untenable, since Ireland is the country most politically and economically exposed to Brexit.
The report was written by Ray Bassett, a former Irish Ambassador to Canada, who says there should be serious consideration given to a radically different relationship between Ireland and the EU after Brexit, including potentially leaving the union in order to retain a close relationship with the UK.
The paper argues Ireland could opt to remain with the UK in a customs and free trade area, while negotiating as favourable as possible trade and investment terms with the remaining 26 member states.
In the wake of the Brexit vote 12 months ago, then-taoiseach Enda Kenny rejected any suggestion that Ireland might follow the UK out of the EU bloc.
The report says Ireland faced a huge choice.
"Whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, there will be a price to pay. For Ireland, there is really no upside to Brexit," it said.
"The question to be raised is what price is Ireland willing to pay to stand in solidarity with the remaining 26 EU countries?
"If the Irish Government is willing to pay that price, will the Dáil, and possibly the population in a referendum, be equally willing to do so?"
The report said:
- Access to the Single Market need not be synonymous with full EU membership.
- The EU is facing "huge problems" and its future direction is unlikely to be in Ireland's interests.
- The DUP's central role in Brexit negotiations as part of its relationship with the Tories should facilitate strong cooperation across Ireland.
It added: "Simply sitting on the sidelines and allowing the EU to negotiate for Ireland is essentially untenable.
"The first duty of the EU negotiators is to act on behalf of the European Union as an institution.
"This is prioritised in their guidelines, approved by the European Council.
"The type of deal that Ireland's interests requires, however, including free trade with the UK, is directly in contradiction with the union negotiators mandate that anything relating to Ireland and her border which emerges from the Brexit negotiations, must 'maintain the integrity the union's legal order', i.e., no exceptions to the customs union."
The consensus in Ireland favours remaining in the EU.