Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan, Brendan Smith, has expressed concern about the growing possibility of a no deal Brexit for the border region and nationwide.
Deputy Smith explained, “I am concerned about the lack of progress in the Brexit negotiations, particularly on issues crucial to Ireland such as level playing field provisions, fisheries and the protocol on Northern Ireland. The fact that the UK appears to be pursuing objectives that are incompatible with the legal commitments set out in the protocol is worrying.
“Michel Barnier’s summation of the 4th round of talks does not give grounds for optimism and the prospect of an extension to the transition period now seems remote. I am therefore increasingly concerned that we are moving towards a no deal Brexit in approximately seven months’ time.
“Whilst it is hard to fathom the prospect of another economic shock following on so soon from the Covid-19 Pandemic, we must use the months ahead to prepare businesses, SMEs and citizens for a significant change in our trading relationship with the UK.
“Ireland must continue to ensure that our unique circumstances and particular interests are kept to the fore in the negotiations and actively work to maintain the solidarity that has been shown to date by our fellow members. In particular, the unique circumstances of the border region need to be provided for as talks continue. For very serious reasons we cannot afford to let the importance of Brexit slip down the political agenda,” concluded Deputy Smith.
Below are replies to my Parliamentary Questions tabled in Dáil Éireann on this critical issue.
Tuesday, 9th June 2020
32. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the discussions he has had with his UK counterpart following the publication by the UK Government of the approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol document; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10296/20]
36. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the discussions he has had with members of the UK Government in relation to the need to honour the commitments it made in relation to the Protocol on Northern Ireland following the departure of the UK from the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10415/20]
Written answers (Question to Foreign)
I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 36 together.
The Taoiseach, my cabinet colleagues and I take every opportunity to engage with EU partners and, as appropriate UK counterparts, to advance Ireland’s priorities in the context of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Over recent weeks, I have had contacts with UK Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis, including on matters arising from the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. I have stressed the importance of ensuring the full implementation of the Protocol, as agreed, and continue to emphasise the importance of the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the peace process in the operationalisation of these arrangements.
Implementing the Protocol fully, in a way that meets all the obligations to which the UK has committed, will provide the clarity and stability which are vital for businesses and people in Northern Ireland – and ultimately for the sustainability of these arrangements which have been designed to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the Peace Process.
Implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is an essential part of ongoing EU-UK contacts. The first meeting of the EU-UK Specialised Committee on the Protocol took place on 30 April, and Ireland participated as part of the EU delegation. The Protocol will also be a matter for discussion in the upcoming meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee on 12 June.
The paper published by the UK Government on 20 May, setting out its approach to implementing the Protocol, is an important step. The European Commission has also set out clearly and in detail what needs to be addressed for implementation of the Protocol, in its Technical Note of 30 April. What is imperative now is to see early and detailed work to ensure that the Protocol is fully operational by the end of transitio