Fine Gael Senator and spokesman on European Affairs, Neale Richmond, has slammed Fianna Fáil’s Justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, for talking up the worst case Brexit scenario by demanding extra contingency planning for a hard border.
Senator Richmond said: “For the past two and a half years, the Government has been working with its European partners to guarantee there is no hardening of the border on the island of Ireland post Brexit.
“There is widespread recognition across the EU and in the UK that any material hardening of the border would be a breach of the Good Friday Agreement.
“Neither the European or British sides in the Brexit talks envisage such a hardening and they have hammered out a deal that ensures that, through an ambitious future relationship underpinned by a backstop insurance policy.
“This deal was reached after an exhaustive negotiation process. This deal is now going through both required ratification processes.
“So far the British Government and the European Council have approved the deal made up of a Withdrawal Agreement and a future political framework.
“The next stage will see the Withdrawal Bill voted upon by the House of Commons next week and the deal given assent by the European Parliament in mid March.
“It is absolutely reckless therefore to hear a senior Fianna Fáil spokesman undermine this ratification process with calls of additional customs and policing allocations for the border.
“For the Irish Government to plan for customs posts in advance of Brexit would be a willful abandonment of the hard work gone in so far as well as roughshod treatment of the Good Friday Agreement.
“Once again, we have seen Fianna Fáil confusion when it comes to Brexit. So far we have seen Fianna Fáil representatives call for border posts to tackle migration, for Ireland to leave the EU, state that this is a bad deal for the UK and Micheál Martin seems more obsessed with the Taoiseach’s expressions than working out the best future for Ireland post Brexit.
“When it comes to Brexit, it is time Fianna Fáil got their own house in order. Rather than talking down the prospects of the only deal on offer, they could be working with civic society to intensify Brexit preparations in the community while if they really wanted to see the deal pass, perhaps they could reach out to the 12 MPs in their sister party, the Liberal Democrats, and convince them to vote for the deal?”