In a speech to the Seanad on Brexit, Fine Gael Senator and EU Affairs spokesman, Neale Richmond, has criticised opposition attempts to play domestic politics with Brexit.
“Brexit will be bad; bad for the EU as a whole, bad for Ireland specifically and bad for the United Kingdom, despite the chest thumping rhetoric of some Brexiteers.
“It will be bad but it is not our policy and the vote was not our decision, despite Ireland having to live with the dire consequences of Brexit.
“I commend the Government for their exhaustive campaign within the EU to push Ireland’s unique case and their campaign domestically to prepare Irish businesses, communities and groups for the impact of Brexit,” Senator Richmond said.
“The Government’s work in this has been intensive and the diplomatic efforts have seen Ireland’s unique issues top of the negotiating agenda for both the EU and the British Government with a rock solid political agreement achieved in December. The Chief Negotiator for the EU27 Michel Barnier has said we need to see ‘substantial progress’ from the UK on the Irish protocol at the next check-up in June’s Summit. Ireland is the forefront of the Barnier negotiating team and terms, we are lucky to have Barnier as our negotiator.
“The continued efforts on a domestic scale are way in advance of anything being undertaken by our continental counterparts, many of whom I have engaged with. These efforts have enjoyed generally wide-spread support and the mentality of ‘it will be alright on the night’ has thankfully given way to the need for genuine preparedness and caution.
“It is disappointing, however, to see certain political forces trying to portray as Government’s strategy and policies in an incorrect light; a desperate attempt to try score a few domestic political points. It is a bit rich for certain political figures to put out misleading statements when they cannot get their own houses in order. Talk of erecting a border to limit migration or the absurd notion that Dublin should negotiate direct with London is extremely damaging.
“An assertion that we should give up an extremely strong negotiating position as a constituent part of the largest economic bloc in the world to negotiate directly with London makes zero sense for Ireland in terms of external negotiations or internally as the solidarity we have received from the other remaining EU member states should not be jeopardised or taken for granted.
“Lectures from other parties who want unachievable special status or who would cause havoc with a premature referendum on Irish unity are not just mistimed but misplaced.
“Brexit will be bad regardless of what is finally agreed in October but those in other parties can help minimize that impact by engaging with their political partners across Europe and working in their local communities, rather than putting out half baked and lazy criticisms of what has been a sterling effort so far.
“It is bad enough seeing hard line Northern Unionists resorting to racist slurs without our own parties trying to play domestic politics with Brexit.
“Playing domestic politics with Brexit only serves to damage Ireland and those who act so irresponsibly will be as much to blame as the British brexiteers,” Senator Richmond said.