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Brexit may damage Ireland more than Britain says George Mitchell

US senator George Mitchell
Brendan Hughes

Former US senator George Mitchell has said that Brexit is a "major error" which could have a worse impact on Ireland north and south than Britain.

Mr Mitchell, who chaired talks which led to the Good Friday Agreement, said the historic peace settlement would never have happened without the European Union.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme, he said the consequences of the UK leaving the EU could be "even more intense and negative" for Ireland.

"The Brexit decision was a democratically taken decision which therefore must be respected, and I personally believe that while the decision must be respected it will historically prove to be a major error on the part of the people of the United Kingdom," he said.

"One of the consequences could have adverse effects on the people of the island of Ireland north and south even more intense and negative than on those of the United Kingdom."

Mr Mitchell said a "subsidiary benefit" of the EU was that "Irish and UK leaders came to get to know each other" and work together.

"I don't think the European Union was essential in the talks themselves but I believe that the talks would never have occurred had there not been a European Union," he said.

He added: "I think the European Union was central to bringing about the Good Friday Agreement."

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