Tuesday 26 September 2017

Paschal Donohoe's optimism about Brexit: 'The challenges are great but there are some opportunities'

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe TD Picture: Tom Burke
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe TD Picture: Tom Burke

Kathy Armstrong

Collectively we can rise about challenges posed by Brexit, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has said.

As British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, Minister Donohoe said he is hopeful we can reach a good agreement.

However he stressed that there are years of hard work and negotiations ahead for all involved.

The Fine Gael politician said: "There will be no bilateral agreement between the UK and Ireland, what we achieve and the progress that we aim to make will be inside the total framework that governs the new relationship that governs the UK and the EU.

"Where we have made significant progress is the recognition of the specific challenge Ireland faces in terms of the peace process, the border and the common movement of people.

"It is recognised among our colleagues in the European Union that this is the only peace process in the EU and is intertwined in the stability of Northern Ireland and our state.

"We've made progress on that but we should be under no illusions, we have years of work ahead of us - the two years that will follow on from the triggering of Article 50 today, I believe a huge amount of work after that will require painstaking work and a clear focus on our interests.

"The challenges are great but there are some opportunities and I'm confident collectively we can rise above it."

Read More: Analysis: A British 'cheap food' policy could prove very costly for Irish beef producers

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Drivetime, he also addressed the worries of the thousands of Irish citizens living in the UK.

Prime Minister Theresa May signs the Article 50 letter in her London office yesterday before it was dispatched to Brussels to be handed over this morning. Photo: PA
Prime Minister Theresa May signs the Article 50 letter in her London office yesterday before it was dispatched to Brussels to be handed over this morning. Photo: PA

He said: "The interests of Irish citizens in the UK are very important to this Government, I speak as someone who was an Irish citizen in the UK for many years.

"I know how important it is to have certainty and predictability regarding your rights.

"The way we will seek to advance those interests will be how the European Unions handles the issue of all EU nationals within the UK."

Read More: It will be 'very complicated' - but Taoiseach is confident Ireland's interests will be reflected in Brexit negotiations

EU Council President Donald Tusk holds British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit letter which was delivered by Britain's permanent representative to the European Union Tim Barrow (not pictured) that gives notice of the UK's intention to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty in Brussels, Belgium, March 29, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman
EU Council President Donald Tusk holds British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit letter which was delivered by Britain's permanent representative to the European Union Tim Barrow (not pictured) that gives notice of the UK's intention to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty in Brussels, Belgium, March 29, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman

Minister Donohoe continued to say that Ireland will have to strengthen relations with other countries following Britain's departure from the Eu.

He said: "In many policy debates and negotiations the country that we were most aligned to was the United Kingdom, in terms of focus on the rights of the consumer and free trade, they were areas we were aligned with the UK on.

"There will be a need now to redevelop new relationships with a whole cluster of new countries on those issues.

"This will be a challenge, there will be interests within the European Union which will strongly point to the need for a country who has left the European Union to be significantly more disadvantaged than any country left within the European Union, that interest is there.

"We need to balance that against an orderly exit of the UK from the European Union," he added.

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