Tuesday 12 December 2017

British 'don't know what they're doing' - jobs minister

Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor Photo: Fergal Phillips
Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor Photo: Fergal Phillips
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

British negotiators preparing for Brexit talks "do not know what they are doing", Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor has claimed.

She was speaking after a trip to London where she met Liam Fox, the British minister for international trade and one of the key figures in the UK's Brexit negotiations.

Ms Mitchell O'Connor made the remarks in the Dáil as she came under pressure from Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins to explain why Budget 2017 didn't include an export fund to help businesses coping with the fall in Sterling. She replied that due to the uncertainty over Brexit, it would be "irresponsible" of her to give details of a fund that may go out of date.

"I was in the UK yesterday and met a number of people that are negotiating the Brexit deal for the UK and may I tell you that they do not know what they are doing and they do not know when they are invoking Article 50," she said.

Article 50 is the clause in European law that provides for member states leaving the EU.

"It would be very irresponsible of me to give you chapter and verse of some fund today and tomorrow it would be out of date," she said.

She insisted that she was "deeply engaged" with IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland "to ensure there are sufficient supports in place to safeguard Irish jobs and exports".

Sinn Féin's Maurice Quinlivan described €3m secured to provide for 50 extra staff for those agencies and the Jobs Department as "peanuts".

Ms Mitchell O'Connor pointed out that an extra €52m in capital funding would also be provided for the enterprise sector.

Irish Independent

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