Progress needed on Irish issue if Brexit talks to move on in December

20 October 2017

Labour Leader Brendan Howlin has said today that Ireland will have to give real consideration to opposing Brexit discussions moving onto transition and trade related issues following the EU Council in December if clear and evident progress is not made on the Irish issue.

Deputy Howlin said:

“The suggestions emanating from the EU Council that discussions with the United Kingdom may be in a position by December to move onto advanced issues pose a fundamental challenge for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

“I am concerned about discussions in recent days around Franco-German concerns on the bill to be paid by the UK at Brexit and the primacy of this issue in general commentary.

“This issue, while important, is nowhere near as significant to Ireland as the border question. Ireland will have to take a long hard look at this question in advance of the December Council meeting.

“We have been told that progress has been made in relation to common travel, but that is only one aspect of the broader challenge facing this country.

“I do not believe that Ireland can rely entirely on either the UK or the EU 26 to ensure our interests are protected. If additional progress has been made I am not aware of it.

“Despite my efforts to feed additional information from my contacts back to the Government’s campaign, I am unhappy with the information flow coming the other way as I pointed out in the Dáil on Wednesday.

“The Taoiseach’s comments at the Council on Thursday seem to suggest that there is no urgency on this matter. The opposite is the case. The train is coming at us rather quickly and the British Government approach remains woefully incoherent. Far from suggesting that this is not a serious issue and that no deadlines are approaching the Taoiseach would do well to recognise that no progress has been made on this issue and that we are running out of time.

“The Taoiseach’s sole job is to keep Ireland’s concerns centre stage as forcefully as possible. It would be great to think sufficient progress is made over the next two months to allow the discussions move onto a new stage but we cannot and should not take that for granted.”

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