EU Legal Assurances on Backstop are Ireland’s Moment of Peril

02 March 2019

Speaking in advance of the selection convention for Labour’s European Parliament candidate for Ireland South, in Cork on Sunday, and reacting to the news that the EU is ready to give the UK more legal guarantees on the Irish backstop, Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin TD called on the Government to hold firm.

Deputy Howlin said:

“If the European Council gives the UK a legally binding guarantee that the Irish backstop is less than permanent, this represents a moment of peril for Ireland.

“The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney have to hold firm that Ireland’s legal guarantee of an open border cannot be superseded by any new legal assurance given to the British Government.

“The backstop is either legally binding unless and until the future EU-UK relationship is established on a basis that negates the need for that fall-back position, or else it has been diluted in some way.

“The Government must be clear with our European partners that no dilution of the backstop is acceptable. We can reassure the British Government that we do not want to invoke the backstop and it is only there as a contingency, but we cannot give them any legal avenue to by-pass the legal guarantee to Ireland now or in the future.

“The Government should spell out what legal guarantee can be given to the British negotiators that does not dilute the Irish backstop.

“While the UK exiting the EU with no deal would bring about border checks, this would only be temporary until a new trade agreement was made. If the Government permits a dilute backstop in the withdrawal agreement, we risk having border checks on the island of Ireland for years to come. The Government and EU need to hold firm on the pledge that any UK trade with the EU is contingent upon a legally binding agreement to maintain an open border in Ireland.”


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