THE editor of a major European newspaper has said Nicola Sturgeon will be speaking to a “sympathetic audience” when she takes part in an event his organisation is holding this week.

The First Minister is to speak about Brexit, Scottish independence and the forthcoming Holyrood elections when she participates in the Irish Times’ Winter Nights Festival.

She will be in conversation with Fintan O’Toole, a leading columnist on the Dublin-based paper, when she speaks with them on Thursday.

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Her participation in the event takes place amid growing interest in Ireland and across the European Union about Scotland’s future and whether it will become an independent country and join the EU.

“There is always keen Irish interest in Scotland. That’s not surprising given our histories and common bonds. But Brexit has brought it to new levels, especially the impetus to support for Scottish independence,” Paul O’Neill, editor of the Irish Times told the Sunday National.

“That is being followed closely in Ireland as we grapple with the implications of the UK’s departure from the EU, what it may mean for the governance of the islands we share and how Scottish independence – should it come to pass – might impact on the relationship between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

“Our futures have rarely seemed so uncertain and so interlinked. That is why there is an appetite in Ireland to know more about what’s happening in Scotland and its broader implications for our future.”

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He added: “And that is why Nicola Sturgeon has been invited to participate in The Irish Times Winter Nights festival. It is safe to assume she will be addressing a sympathetic audience given that majority Irish public opinion views EU membership as overwhelmingly beneficial and Brexit as a monumental mistake.

“The audience will be keen to hear more about the implications of life outside the EU for Scotland and her predictions for the May elections and, more significantly, to understand the politics of what may follow.”

Earlier this month the Scottish and Irish governments entered into a bilateral review of their future relationships, promising closer co-operation and collaboration.

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In their report, Irish minister for foreign affairs Simon Coveney and Scottish External Affairs Secretary Michael Russell set out a series of joint actions to be taken in a range of fields.

These included business and the economy, the community and diaspora, culture and academia as well as government and political relations.

Coveney said: “We will work more closely as governments to manage challenges together, including to support our broader recovery from Covid-19 in the coming years. I see this review as both a platform, on which our relationship will grow and a map, which will guide that growth.”

Russell said he looked forward to building on “the great friendship we have by enhancing co-operation at this time of unprecedented change and challenge”.