Thursday 19 September 2019

Government told to come clean on what'll happen in no-deal scenario

Fianna Fáil TD
Fianna Fáil TD
Common sight in future?: Armed PSNI officer at a road block. Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Hugh O'Connell, Cormac McQuinnn & Eilish O'Regan

The Government is under growing pressure to outline exactly what will happen on the Border in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

As leaked UK government documents warn about the inevitability of a hard Border, the Irish Government continues to insist that it is working with the European Commission to avoid checks at the Border with Northern Ireland.

But Fianna Fáil Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers said the Government had failed to provide any details on plans to carry out checks away from the Border if the UK leaves without a deal on October 31.

"We have had no further detail on this proposal, we don't know how it will operate and importantly we don't know if the Government has run this past the EU Commission and whether it will meet the requirements of protecting the single market," Ms Chambers said.

Plans to conduct checks away from the Border were mooted by Tánaiste Simon Coveney at the beginning of July. He said work had been ongoing with the European Commission on measures to protect the integrity of the EU single market and the peace process. There have been no further details provided by the Government since then.

Ms Chambers said this information is needed with just over 10 weeks to go until the UK is set to leave the EU and the increasing prospect that this will happen without a withdrawal deal and two-year transition period.

"Either they have no idea what's going to happen or they do know a bit more than what has been said publicly. The only answer we get is 'difficult decisions will have to be made'," she said.

The British government now expects a hard Border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to leaked contingency plan, codenamed Operation Yellowhammer, which emerged on Sunday.

The leaked papers warn that initial plans to deal with a hard Brexit on the Border will be unsustainable and the UK government is now operating on the basis that a hard Border will return.

Road blockades, disruption to key sectors, job losses, smuggling and the potential for electricity shortages in the North are all highlighted in the leaked papers. Shortages of food, medicine and fuel are also predicted for the UK.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said the Government needed to accelerate no-deal planning and provide more information to the Irish businesses. "Central to these preparations and missing to date has been the level of material support available for Ireland from the EU," he said.

Health Minister Simon Harris said that Ireland continues to prepare for all possible Brexit scenarios.

"My department is extensively working on the issue of medicine supplies. We are not asking people to stockpile."

He said on average, even without Brexit, there are supplies of medicines in this State that will last for about 10 to 12 weeks.

Independent Alliance Minister of State John Halligan said it was not in the UK's interests that there be a hard Border.

"I believe that essentially the British people, elements within the British government and the British establishment know that.

"I think the coming weeks will be important for Ireland and Britain."

Irish Independent

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