Enda Kenny, Ireland’s prime minister, said on Thursday that Ireland would call for the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland to be embedded in the EU’s Brexit negotiation plans, as he stressed that the UK’s departure could not be allowed to throw the peace process off course.

The agreement should be included in the “ground rules” for the negotiations, he said.

Speaking at a conference of Europe’s centre-right leaders in Malta, the taoiseach said that the Article 50 trigger being used by the UK to leave the EU “was never intended to be used,” but that there was no alternative to pressing ahead with the talks.

Mr Kenny has repeatedly warned of the danger the UK’s exit poses to the peace process in Northern Ireland, and last month called on Brussels to include measures to allow Northern Ireland “ease of access” into the EU in the event of Irish reunification.

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