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Minister for European Affairs expresses regret at UK referendum outcome and reaffirms Ireland's place at the heart of Europe

The Minister for European Affairs, Dara Murphy TD, has expressed his regret at the outcome of the UK referendum, saying that cool heads will be needed in the negotiations period ahead.

Speaking in Luxembourg where he is meeting with fellow Europe Ministers in the General Affairs Council for discussions in the immediate aftermath of the result, Minister Murphy said:

"As Minister for European Affairs, I regret the decision of the UK to leave the European Union. It is a difficult day for Europe and not the outcome Ireland or our European partners had hoped for. However, as the Taoiseach has said, the British people have spoken and we fully respect their decision. We must all now work with cool heads in the negotiation period ahead."

"For Ireland's part, our place remains firmly at the heart of Europe, as a fully committed member state of the European Union and the Eurozone. There is a broad consensus across Irish society that EU membership remains central to our prosperity as an open competitive economy and that it has been the foundation for much of the social progress we have made over the last four decades."

"Today's outcome is disappointing, yet the prospect that the UK could vote to leave the Union has been on the cards for some time. That is why the Government has put in place a framework contingency plan to address the challenges facing Ireland."

"Importantly, the UK will remain a member of the EU while the withdrawal negotiations proceed and there will be time within that process to work through each issue and to protect and advance key Irish concerns with our EU partners, as well as with the UK. For my part, as European Affairs Minister, I will work tirelessly and constructively with the UK and our EU partners as part of those negotiations."

"On a personal level, in discussions with European counterparts here in Luxembourg today, there is a genuine sense of regret, sadness and loss; sentiments I share. This is a challenging time for our Union; but we stand strong together, confident that we will find a way forward that is in the best interests of all our citizens."