Tuesday 12 December 2017

Flanagan says 'Brexit Minister' to handle EU talks is non-starter

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has strongly defended the Government's handling of the Brexit crisis - and brushed aside suggestions a dedicated "Brexit Minister" should be appointed.

Mr Flanagan said all the Government are closely involved in handling the fallout from Britain's expected EU exit in April 2019. He said new administrative structures and resources had been put in place and intensive diplomatic contacts across the European Union would continue.

"We will show the same determination we showed in the spring of 2011 when we came into office and were faced with a banjaxed economy," Mr Flanagan said.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said both he and Taoiseach Enda Kenny have had a long series of meetings with all key British and EU leaders since the June 23 Brexit result emerged. He also said he met British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson last Friday and that Johnson was due to visit Dublin in the coming weeks.

Following Sunday's announcement that Britain will kick off the 'divorce proceedings' in late March of next year, there has been criticism of the Dublin Government's response.

Read more: Ireland braced for serious fallout from Brexit - here are six things you need to know now

Fianna Fáil foreign affairs spokesman Darragh O'Brien said the Government appeared to lack coordination in tackling all of the core issues. He said the idea of appointing a dedicated "Brexit Minister" should be looked at - though coordination might be improved in other ways.

"It is clear that Britain is taking a very hard line in its approach to the type of relationship they want with the EU after Brexit actually happens. Theresa May's emphasis on immigration and references to banishing any role for the EU Court of Justice do not bode well and consequences could prove harsh for Ireland," the Fianna Fáil spokesman said.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said it would take time for any evidence of "give and take" to emerge from the UK-EU negotiations on the separation terms and the framing of a new set of relationships. He noted that Ms May had promised to consult the various constituent parts of the UK.

"We will be stressing here that Northern Ireland's issues around Brexit are most acute because of the peace process and the links with the rest of the island of Ireland where we intend to play a full role as EU and Eurozone members," Mr Flanagan said.

The Minister said Ireland will be defending its trade and economic interests in the upcoming process, including the North's peace process, North-South links, the common British-Irish travel area as well as the €1.2bn weekly trade.

Irish Independent

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