Senior figures in Fianna Fáil are at odds on the issue of Brexit, a Fine Gael senator has said.
Seanad spokesman on EU Affairs Neale Richmond said a contradiction has emerged between the Fianna Fáil leader and the party’s Brexit spokesperson on the transitional period that would keep the UK in the EU single market and customs union.
Earlier this month, Fianna Fáil Brexit spokesperson Stephen Donnelly said he was “unimpressed” with the Taoiseach’s Brexit solutions that were outlined in his speech at Queen’s University Belfast.
Amongst the solutions, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar proposed a transition period while Brexit problems were worked out.
Yesterday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin welcomed the UK Labour Party’s policy shift on Brexit, in which it called for continued UK membership of the EU single market and customs union during a longer transition period from March 2019 onwards.
Senator Richmond said: “Deputy Donnelly and Deputy Martin’s thoughts are clearly completely at odds. There is no room for this confusion on an issue as important as Brexit.
“I welcome Micheál Martin’s sensible and mature approach to the ongoing Brexit debate in the UK, his comments on the Single Market and the Customs Union mirror that of my own.
“But it is worrying to see a clear disparity between the Fianna Fáil Leader and his Brexit spokesman on these matters.
“It is strange that Martin welcomes policy ideas that Stephen Donnelly found to be unimpressive when they were suggested by the Taoiseach.
“Fianna Fail have a great deal to offer in terms of the Brexit narrative, both through their existing EU experience and their membership of the Liberal (ALDE) grouping.
“I am hopeful that both Martin and Donnelly will use their positions influence their ALDE colleague Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit pointman who will visit Dublin to address Oireachtas Committees next month.
“Solutions like those welcomed by Deputy Martin at the weekend are what we need to see coming out of the UK, Brexit will be bad for Ireland and we must make every effort to limit this impact”.