Fine Gael Senator and Spokesperson on EU Affairs, Neale Richmond, has called on the British Government to drop unworkable technology proposals for the Irish border and find real solutions to agreements made during phase 1 of Brexit negotiations to establish a defined customs partnership.
A recent House of Lords report stated there is ‘little prospect that the technology required entirely to resolve the Irish border issue could become operational under the timetable for Brexit currently envisaged.’
Senator Richmond said: “I cannot understand how the position of the British Government on Option B (technology solution) is in any way still being considered when the technology remains untested, their House of Lords have said it cannot be implemented in time, there are no concrete proposals, and it fails to recognise the nature of trade on the island in food and live animals.
“To put this in to context, given the fact that we have over 240 border crossing points here, this untested technology would be required at more border points than what currently exists at borders in America, Canada and all of Eastern Europe combined.
“We cannot continue to collectively move closer to the end of these Brexit talks until the UK steps up and contributes their fair share of solutions.
“At every step of these negotiations the UK has dismissed EU and Irish positions and at every step they have eventually had to accept the realities of what Article 50 means. They cannot continue to dismiss our positions and solutions until they start showing workable alternatives.
“The Irish Government and the EU have been clear and consistent since before Article 50 was invoked. We recognise that the removal of border posts played a vital role in ensuring peace was brought to Northern Ireland. The Brexiteer position that Ireland or our Taoiseach is playing a nationalistic card is quite frankly ridiculous.
“What sums up the differences between the EU and UK approach is quite simple. The EU has published a 120 page legal document on the third option yet we still have not seen any concrete details from the UK on their two preferred options. While Brexiteers may not be happy with the text, at least the EU is ensuring we have some order to our world once this Brexit shambles finally unravels.
“Since July, the Irish Government has highlighted that a new overarching customs association, now known as Option A, is the preferable way forward.
“Such an arrangement is also the stated preference of the UK Government. It will require intense and rapid negotiations but will ultimately ensure no border, either on the island of Ireland or within the UK.
“There is no such thing as a good Brexit; we need to work hard now for damage limitation. This can be achieved through a sensible customs agreement but it is time that talks of technological solutions and fantasy rhetoric of Option B is abandoned.”