Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster has called for closer Anglo-Irish relations.
In a speech on Brexit in Killarney in the Irish Republic, Mrs Foster said there are more things to unite than divide Britain and Ireland in phase two of discussions on the UK’s split from Europe.
And she suggested leaders across the island of Ireland should work together for the benefit of everyone.
The DUP chief said she planned to raise the prospect of enhancing Anglo-Irish relations, under the auspices of the British-Irish Council, when she meets Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.
“Maintaining Northern Ireland’s economic and political status as an integral part of the United Kingdom is absolutely crucial to me and my party,” she said.
“To think anything else would be as foolish as believing that the Taoiseach (Leo Varadkar) or the Tanaiste (Mr Coveney) desired anything other than Irish unity.
“But while we will always battle for our own national interests, we must also battle for our mutual interests.
“And our mutual interests will not end on the day the UK formally leaves the European Union. The United Kingdom may be leaving the EU but the common interests that we share across the British Isles will remain.”
Mrs Foster made the call at the Killarney Economic Conference in Co Kerry where the issues around Brexit were explored in a two-day conference.