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Crash out will lead to chaos before deal is finally agreed, says Varadkar

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A no-deal Brexit will result in a period of chaos after which "we would perhaps end up exactly where we are now, with a very similar deal", Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has predicted.

He used his trip to Davos to tell international media the Irish insistence on the backstop is not just about trade.

"This is at a different level for us," he said, explaining the peace process will be put in danger if a hard Border is erected.

The Government yesterday published more details of the emergency legislation it plans to pass before March 29.

It includes new laws to ensure continued access to healthcare in Northern Ireland, currently covered by EU rules, in a no deal Brexit.

Other areas covered include grant provisions for students studying in the UK, cross-Border rail services and greater powers for Enterprise Ireland to provide additional investment, loans and RD&I grants.

It is likely additional sitting time would be needed for the Dáil and the Seanad to pass the emergency legislation.

The outline of the 'omnibus bill' runs to 95 pages and includes taxation changes and the continued operation of the all-island Single Electricity Market.

Separately, the Irish Independent has also seen a memo prepared by officials for Transport Minister Shane Ross which warns about risks to the aviation sector if the UK crashes out.

It suggests the potential for growth in flights across the Irish Sea is likely to be hindered.

The EU will allow point-to-point UK flights to continue but the frequency cannot expand beyond 2018 levels.

If the UK imposes similar restrictions on flights coming into their country, it could restrict Ryanair or Aer Lingus from launching new routes to the UK this year.

Mr Ross also warns that while Ireland accepts the temporary arrangements being put in place, the EU cannot be allowed to set a precedent for controlling regulation.

Mr Varadkar was more blunt about the prospect of a no-deal scenario than before.

He said Ireland would face a "major dilemma" because of the obligations to protect the single market.

Ultimately, Mr Varadkar argued, Ireland, the UK and the EU would have to come together to protect the Good Friday Agreement with a deal very similar to the backstop.

He also suggested that the UK would struggle to do any trade deals with other countries until the issue is resolved.

Meanwhile, gardaí have declined to say what contingency plans are being put in place for the Border in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris denied reports in the Irish Independent that 600 gardaí will be needed to police the Border post-Brexit.

However when asked about funding or specific contingency plans, Garda HQ declined to comment.

The PSNI who last month announced special additional funding had been allocated to hire 308 officers.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton described it as "sensible planning", enabling the police force to prepare for the post-Brexit era.

Irish Independent