Proposing the Seanad motion to support the Draft Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the EU, Fine Gael Senator, Neale Richmond, has stated that it is time to back the best Brexit deal available.
“We did not ask for Brexit. We deeply regret the UK’s decision to leave the EU and all parties will be diminished as a result.
“As a passionate pro-European who is deeply saddened by Brexit, I struggle to say that this Withdrawal Agreement is a good deal because there can be no good deal. Brexit is not a good thing. However, this is very much the least worst deal possible and it allow for an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU.
“The Withdrawal Agreement is a sensible deal that delivers on the key aims of the Irish Government and protects the future of the Good Friday Agreement; a fragile peace deal just 20 years old.
“The next steps of ratifying this Agreement are clear from both a European and British perspective. From our vantage we must work with all partners to push this deal over the line, be it in the European Council, the European Parliament and in Westminster.
“Many commentators here were convinced this deal was dead in the water and that Prime Minister May’s tenure was over before the ink on it was dry. Despite these doomsday scenarios, much work has and will be done. We must take the Prime Minister at her word and allow the process in Westminster to take place while working to ensure its approval on our side, the European side.
“Some would like to play petty domestic politics with this process; such as the small amount of TDs in the Dáil who sought to marry their revolutionary socialism with the Eurosceptic vitriol of UKIP and a Tory fringe. The same goes for those in other parties who have tried to critique the comprehensive preparatory efforts taken by the Government and various state agencies; despite the first Brexit preparatory meetings taking place in 2014, long before any Referendum.
“The spectre of a no deal Brexit still lies on the horizon and will not shift until this deal becomes a legally binding treaty in advance of the 29th March. A no deal Brexit would have biblically disastrous consequences for Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK and the EU. That can be avoided; this will be avoided once this draft Agreement becomes a Treaty.”