Responding to comments by Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin that he would prepare for a hard Brexit, Fine Gael Senator and spokesman on EU Affairs, Neale Richmond, has accused Martin of giving up on Brexit negotiations.
“Fine Gael in Government is committed to making sure the Brexit negotiations are done in good faith and the Government is playing its part in supporting the lead EU Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.
“These negotiations are still in the first phase of a lengthy process that will bring us up until a final deal in March 2019, followed by what both sides have agreed a reasonable transitionary period.
“The consequences of a hard or no deal Brexit are well known and they would be disastrous for Ireland and it is vital that every effort is made to avoid this scenario.
“The Government through An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and Minister Simon Coveney has set out the sensible suggestion that the UK remain in the Customs Union or that a new EU-UK Customs Union can be agreed. This suggestion is gaining traction already in the UK. Solving the key issue of future customs relations will settle many of the post Brexit problems as they effect Ireland.
“On the other hand suggestion endorsed by Fianna Fáil members at their Ard Fhéis that an electronic border across the island of Ireland should be pursued is both unrealistic and regressive.
“In a desperate attempt to deflect from his party’s own relative silence on Brexit, Martin has continued to fret over the contents of a dated, incomplete, report from Revenue that actually adds very little to the overall discourse on Brexit.
“Fianna Fáil, like all parties, has much to offer in terms of trying to limit the impact of Brexit on Ireland.
“Micheál Martin and his invisible Brexit spokesman, Stephen Donnelly, would be far better off using Fianna Fáil’s European alliances to lobby the seven EU Heads of State from their ALDE group that sit at the European Council and to continuously engage with key MEP Guy Verhofsdat, who also belongs to ALDE, in order to ensure they are positive to Ireland’s position.
“Ireland needs to ensure that Brexit is as seamless as possible and Fianna Fáil needs to stop criticising from the sidelines and get involved,” Senator Richmond said.