Tuesday 26 March 2019

Hardline Brexiteers are in for 'a nasty surprise' if they think the EU will abandon Ireland - Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said those predicting the EU will abandon Ireland at the last minute in order to secure a Brexit deal “are in for a nasty surprise”.

He has insisted this country will be ready for whatever type of Brexit develops in the coming weeks.

The majority of political parties on the island are represented at the latest All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit in Dublin Castle today - but the event was once again snubbed by the DUP.

Speaking to reporter on his way in, Mr Varadkar rejected suggestions emerging from sources from Brussels that a hard border could be avoided in a no-deal scenario by placing checks on goods moving from Ireland to the continent.

“Whatever happens, Ireland is going to stay part of the European Union. It is the common European home we helped to build.

“We are founder members of the single market. We can’t allow a decision made in Britain to leave the European Union to undermine our membership of the single market and customs union, which we will protect, he said.

“I don’t see how it would avoid a hard border. It would create a hard border between Ireland and the European Union and that is not something we can accept.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin questioned what is being planned for the border on March 29.

He said the Government has been clear on what is not being planned but refuses to give a clear picture of what happens in a no-deal scenario.

“There is no way of describing Ireland as Brexit ready today,” he said.

Mr Martin predicted Article 50 will ultimately be extended, postponing Brexit Day until June or July.

He accepted EU solidarity will Ireland “remains fully intact”.

“There is no scenario where they will force Ireland to accept a deal.”

Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald was hugely critical of UK Prime Minister Theresa May, accusing her of “counting down the clock”.

She said Mrs May had “binned her agreement with the EU” and show. “enormous bad faith within this process”.

Ms McDonald said the backstop is the “bare minimum of what we need” to ensure a hard border never re-emerges.

The Sinn Féin president also called for a forum to be established that can begin work on preparations for a united Ireland.

The Taoiseach said the issue should not be brought into the Brexit debate, but Ms McDonald said this was “an irresponsible absurdity because the genie is out of the bottle”

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