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Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny Enda Kenny speaks at the launch of the Healthy Ireland Network at Dublin Castle. May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

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By Padraic Halpin

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will more than likely have to ask the European Union for specific assistance in dealing with economic fallout from Brexit, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said on Thursday.

Due to its close trade links with Britain, Dublin has said that it would make a strong case to fellow member states that it may require EU support to mitigate a "serious disturbance" to Ireland's economy from its neighbour's departure from the bloc.

Ireland's top civil servant overseeing Brexit planning, John Callinan, said on Tuesday that such a request would not yet be made as long as a close future trading relationship between the EU and Britain was possible.

Kenny, who is stepping down as prime minister and due to be replaced next month, anticipated that it would be needed.

"More than likely will have to make a case for assistance from the European Union in this regard because all of the economic reports would indicate that Ireland would be most adversely impacted by a difficult Brexit," Kenny told a conference on Brexit.

"While we are the strongest and fastest growing economy (in the EU) ...these shocks and problems are of major significance for us."

Callinan said on Tuesday that one of the areas being examined was a potential exemption from EU state aid rules, enabling Ireland to provide financial support to some companies adversely affected by Brexit.

Irish businesses fear Brexit will lead to a costly rise in tariffs, paperwork and transit times. Kenny said there were no answers yet as to whether exporters to Britain would face tariff charges.

Speaking at the same conference, a senior official at the government agency responsible for customs checks, said disruption at the border between the Irish Republic and the British province of Northern Ireland would be minimal.

The border will be the only land frontier between the United Kingdom and the European Union once Britain leaves.

Tony Buckley, assistant secretary for customs at Ireland's Revenue Commissioners, said customs posts would not be needed and being an island at the end of the EU supply chain meant Ireland could rely to a greater extent on self assessment with the small number of required checks made away from the border.

"The main image that comes to people minds when they think of an border is cars being stopped and searched. Not going to happen. There's no reason for it," Buckley said.

"We have some 300 border crossings, we haven't the faintest intention to close any of those or interfere with them in any way."

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by John Stonestreet)

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