'We have to be prepared for no deal,' says Martin
Ireland is facing a “very grave moment” which is being made worse by “mounting evidence of incomplete preparations”, Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin has said.
The Opposition leader has hit out at what he sees as a lack of transparency from the Government about contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.
Writing in today’s Irish Independent, Mr Martin says that chaotic events surrounding Brexit mean nobody can now “question the wisdom” of his decision to extend the Confidence and Supply arrangement with Fine Gael.
While he backs Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s stance on the need for a Northern Ireland backstop in the Brexit deal, he expresses deep frustration at the Government’s handling of domestic preparations for no deal.
“Let’s be very clear. Not being ready for all eventualities represents a major threat to Ireland’s position – and the biggest threat to our strong national consensus on Brexit is a lack of transparency.
“The chaos in London and the ignorance and prejudice which continues to drive the policy of the hardline Brexiteers cannot be allowed to distract us from taking actions which our country needs.”
Mr Martin accepts that at EU level there is “no doubt whatsoever of the continued solidarity” – but he questions whether the Government is being fully truthful about what will happen at the Border if the UK crashes out on March 29.
“On something as basic as Border arrangements there have been wild swings between one minister being told to stay quiet when he said there might be extra security required to only a few days later the Taoiseach saying the Army would be deployed,” he said.
Ireland’s diplomatic efforts will be ramped up again next week with Mr Varadkar meeting key EU figures in Brussels and Tánaiste Simon Coveney travelling to Washington.
Mr Varadkar is scheduled to hold discussions with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday.
His office said the talks would centre on preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
The Taoiseach is expected to outline the type of supports Ireland will need from the EU if a deal is not agreed in the House of Commons.
“The Taoiseach will outline the work under way in Ireland and the supports that may be needed given the potential impact of a hard Brexit in Ireland,” a note said.
Mr Varadkar will also meet European Council President Donald Tusk to discuss “the latest developments in London”.
“The Taoiseach will use the opportunity once again to thank the institutions, and the other member states, for their continuing support for Ireland.”
Meanwhile, DUP leader Arlene Foster has said talk of a hard Border being erected in a no-deal scenario is just people “spinning tales”.
Ms Foster has described the moves being taken by British Prime Minister Theresa May to replace the backstop as “good progress”.
Ms Foster conceded that the EU are “tough negotiators”.
“I don’t expect them to roll over within hours,” she said.
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