Macron assures Ireland of continued support around Brexit

‘We will never let you down’ says French president after discussion with Taoiseach

French president Emmanuel Macron told Taoiseach Micheál Martin that "we will never let you down" on Brexit after discussions between the two leaders at Government Buildings on Thursday.

They discussed the Northern Ireland protocol, relations with the UK, corporation tax and a range of international and bilateral issues

Opening the joint press conference following the meeting at Government Buildings, Mr Martin said that Ireland and France were “the oldest and best of friends”. The links between the two countries, he said, “are deep and they’ve never been stronger”.

Mr Martin thanked Mr Macron for France’s assistance in evacuating Irish citizens and their dependants from Kabul, and hailed the co-operation between Ireland and France in a variety of sectors, singling out especially education and research.


“France has been extremely helpful in assisting our efforts to secure the safe return of Irish citizens and their family members . . . Your support is greatly appreciated. Merci beaucoup,” Mr Martin told the French president.

Corporation tax

The two leaders also discussed Covid-19, climate change, the future of the European Union and the contentious issue of an international minimum rate of corporation tax.

They also sent a joint message to the British government on the Northern Ireland protocol, on which discussions will shortly resume, with both men insisting that the UK must fulfil the terms of the agreements previously made with the EU.

Mr Macron assured Ireland of French and EU support. “To put it bluntly,” he said, “we will never let you down”.

From the beginning, Europe has been united and has stood in solidarity with Ireland, he said, and that would not change.

He said Brexit was “an existential issue for the solidarity and unity of the European Union”.

Mr Macron also stressed the need for a European approach to the issue of refugees, describing the situation in Afghanistan as "a humanitarian emergency".

Afghan refugees

“We will have to deal with migration issues,” he said, adding, “I don’t want Europe to undergo migration pressure.”

He stressed that he wanted the EU to work together to find “common mechanisms” to deal with the situation.

While there was a Franco-German draft proposal, he said, “we are working with other countries”.

Mr Martin said Ireland would be “generous” in accepting refugees from Afghanistan, but added: “We have to approach the migration challenges that will undoubtedly arise in a very strategic and perhaps more far-seeing way than in the past. And we have to do this intelligently.”

The murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and the conviction of Ian Bailey in a French court was also raised in questions to the two men. Mr Martin expressed his sympathy to the family of Ms Toscan du Plantier but said that the Government could not interfere in the judicial process, He said the death was a "terrible and horrible deed" and a "source of great pain and grief" in west Cork. "We send our sympathies and empathy to her family," he said.

Mr Macron said that if Mr Bailey came to France, “a new trial could be organised but so far, he has been refusing to do so”.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times