Fine Gael Senator and spokesman on EU Affairs, Neale Richmond, has slammed Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly’s faux outrage in relation to a Revenue working paper, dating from 2016, detailing the potential impact of a hard Brexit from a customs point of view.
“This Revenue document was an internal working paper prepared immediately after the Brexit vote. It was a first technical look at possible administrative implications and the challenges of Brexit for Ireland from a customs point of view.
“Deputy Donnelly’s desperate attempt to make something more of this is both counterproductive and unwise.
“The working paper was never finalised, and was not a statement of Revenue’s views. It dates from September 2016, before Article 50 was triggered and it predates the many developments and papers that have issued this year. It is not Government policy.
“Despite all this it should be noted that the contents contained in the working paper are nothing new. It underlines the need to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, an objective shared by the EU and the UK. This will require imaginative and flexible solutions.
“The contents of this working paper, along with masses of evidence presented by all Government Departments, interest groups, civic society and experts have pointed to the extreme challenges that Brexit presents to Ireland.
“The Government has consistently said that the best outcome would be for the UK to remain in the customs union and the single market, and has been examining all possible scenarios as part of its contingency planning which has been underway since long before the referendum.
“Ireland will continue to work closely with the Commission Task Force and our EU partners to seek the best possible outcome to the ongoing EU-UK negotiations.
“Brexit is the greatest challenge to face the Irish state since its foundation. There is scope for all sectors of society, political or other, to contribute to the continued efforts to limit the impact of Brexit and to continue to further the agenda of Ireland with our partners in the EU and the UK.
“Many in Fianna Fáil and other parties have been positively proactive in this regard and I would encourage Deputy Donnelly to contribute to this rather than spouting faux outrage that I can only assume comes from a level of ignorance as to what the Brexit process entails.”