IRELAND’S former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, thinks that Brexiteers, and by extension the Westminster Government of Theresa May, do not give “two hoots” about Northern Ireland during the current chaos over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The longest-serving taoiseach after Eamon de Valera, Ahern has expressed his serious concern as to the survival of the Good Friday Agreement through the Brexit process.

Ahern speaks with authority on the subject as he was the Irish leader who negotiated the agreement 20 years ago for the Republic of Ireland. Interviewed on the Alex Salmond Show, Ahern told the former First Minister of his fears for the future of these islands.

He said: “The whole idea was to try and make the island of Ireland one economic unit so that we could move freely without any restrictions, without any regulations whatsoever, that trade was through a frictionless border ... a border that was free of any security, free of any checks, free of any passport or regulatory controls of any kind. We’ve had 15 years plus of an island that was developing, an island that had economic links, that was working perfectly and unfortunately, Brexit in so many ways undermines that.”

The UK Government has already had to concede that special arrangements will need to be made for a so-called ‘soft border’ between Ireland and Northern Ireland and in turn Nicola Sturgeon has demanded the same for Scotland.

Asked whether almost two decades of peace had made key British politicians complacent about peace in Ireland the former Taoiseach said:

“We tried hard in the Brexit debate to get the Irish message over...but the reality is that none of them cared two hoots about Northern Ireland. It was no longer an issue, it wasn’t one of the top three stories, as it was for generations, in the news. It is as simple or as complicated as this, that if the UK pull out of the customs can you have a frictionless border, how can you have a border without controls and without checkpoints?”

Asked whether he could envisage a future British or even an English Prime Minister having to telephone a future Taoiseach to ask for support in Europe, Ahern commented: “I think the craziest position in the transition period is that the European Council will be continuing on and Britain will still be in the European Union fully and it won’t have any say whatsoever at the negotiating table. It sounds to me like the worst hand, if you were playing cards you would certainly give up, so I don’t think it will be in the long-term but the short-term that Britain will need Ireland and others to be helpful.”

The Alex Salmond show is broadcast each Thursday on RT at 7.30am, 6.30pm and 11.30 pm on SKY 512 and FREEVIEW 113.