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Bertie Ahern: 'Regulatory alignment by another name' the best solution for Brexit border issue

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that "regulatory alignment by another name" may be the best solution to resolve the Brexit impasse.

Speaking at a Brexit conference in Dublin this morning, Mr Ahern and other former Taoisigh also had warnings about what would happen in the event that Britain leaves the EU and there is a return to borders in the North.

Mr Ahern said the unionists in the North supported regulatory alignment in there after Brexit, which would allow the free trade of goods both North and South as well as East and West.

Britain has been warned that a solution on the North must be on the table by June or a smooth exit from the EU will be threatened.

Former Taoisigh John Bruton, Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen at this morning's event. Pic: Fennell Photography.

Speaking at the Institute of International and European Affairs conference this morning, Mr Ahern said the preference to resolve the deadlock would be regulatory alignment, essentially keeping Britain in the EU customs union and single market.

However, London wants to strike new independent trade deals, which would likely necessitate Britain leaving the EU completely.

Mr Ahern said such alignment could work, if proposed in the talks, by another name, as there was Tory and British opposition to such an option at present.

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen also said it was now "time to put some meat on the bone" in the Brexit talks.

The "rights of those who have strong nationalists aspirations" must also be recognised going forward, said Mr Cowen, including through the Good Friday Agreement.

Earlier, Bertie Ahern warned that ordinary people would rip down any new border infrastructure in the North.

"There never will be a border. There is not going to be a physical border across Ireland because if you tried to put it there you wouldn't have to wait for terrorism to take it down, people would just physically pull it down - the ordinary people."