Fine Gael Senator and spokesman on European Affairs, Neale Richmond, has called on Fianna Fáil to either propose substantive policies on Brexit or work constructively to bolster the Government’s position.
“I agreed with parts of Micheál Martin’s speech in Donegal last night, especially when he said David Cameron’s announcement of an in/out referendum five years ago represents one of the most disastrous failures of leadership in a modern democracy.
“However it was also five years ago when Fianna Fáil first proposed a Border Economic Zone. Last night, Micheal Martin announced yet again his proposal to establish a “special economic zone”. It sounds nice, but despite numerous requests from the Tánaiste Simon Coveney, we’ve had no detail or policy papers as to how it would work.
“Asked on Morning Ireland where the border would be and what the border would look like under this special economic zone, Micheal Martin said ‘Well obviously the flesh will have to be put on the bone of that.’ That’s not good enough.
“Have Fianna Fáil not thought this through at this stage? Without any detail, the proposal is a catchphrase, not a policy which seeks to resolve the difficult issues at the heart of the backstop.
“Fianna Fáil should either propose something substantive or they should constructively engage with the Government’s position, which has the backing of 26 EU Member States and Michel Barnier.
“As the Tánaiste said during his speech last night, it is blatantly inaccurate and politically mischievous for Micheál Martin to suggest that the Irish Government has dramatised the backstop and that we in some way fell foul of the Taskforce.
“This is not the time to lose our nerve. It’s the time to focus our efforts on agreeing a way forward and ensuring the UK meets its own commitments of last December and March.
“Fianna Fáil and indeed all Irish political parties have much to offer the Brexit debate especially by working with their European party partners at a European Council and Parliament level to keep Ireland top of the agenda, this is where the focus needs to be in these crucial few weeks
“It’s very disappointing that – when we continue to receive outstanding solidarity from Barnier and governments across the EU – that solidarity is lacking at home from Fianna Fáil and its leader.”