Sunday 22 September 2019

More than 3,000 apply for 600 customs jobs under Brexit contingency plans

Selling the deal: British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: REUTERS
Selling the deal: British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: REUTERS
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

There have been more than 3,000 applications for 600 customs officers positions advertised as part of the Government's Brexit contingency plans.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney will today update Cabinet on plans for dealing with the fallout from Brexit, including the potential for a no-deal scenario.

Revenue has said it needs an extra 600 staff to get through the transition period which runs until the end of 2020 and to be ready for a future EU-UK trade deal.

The number of customs staff in ports and airports, including Dublin Airport, Dublin Port and Shannon, is being beefed up.

It is understood Mr Coveney will today outline the huge interest in the positions as part of a progress report on contingencies to Cabinet.

In July the Cabinet signed off on close to 1,100 customs officers, vets and SPS inspectors to be recruited as part of the Brexit 'preparedness' on an east/west basis.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May will today visit Belfast in a bid to highlight the support among business people for her Brexit deal.

Amid ongoing wrangling in Westminster, Mrs May has chosen Northern Ireland as one of the first stops on a UK-wide tour to sell the package.

She will tell an event at Queen's University that avoiding a hard Border on this island "has been to the forefront of my mind throughout the negotiations".

In a statement issued last night, the prime minister noted that her previous visits to the North helped her see "first-hand how important it is that the unique circumstances local employers face are recognised in any agreement".

"They need to be able to trade freely across the Border with Ireland and have unfettered access to the rest of the United Kingdom's market. This deal makes that possible and that's why, across Northern Ireland, employers large and small have been getting behind it," she said.

Downing Street said she will meet with all five political parties, including the DUP which currently props up her fragile government through a confidence and supply arrangement.

Arlene Foster's party is showing little sign of relenting from its position that the deal cannot be approved unless the so-called 'backstop' is dropped.

She told business representatives yesterday there was "no enthusiasm" for the deal in the House of Commons and they "should not waste the next few weeks". "We should use this time to work on getting a better deal which works for the UK and Northern Ireland," the DUP leader said.

However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he expects UK politicians will have to accept the Brexit deal "sooner or later".

He said a hard Border cannot be avoided "just through goodwill and political statements and wishful thinking". Asked if that meant the EU would wait for the House of Commons to vote a second time on the deal if it doesn't pass in December, Mr Varadkar said he doesn't have "a crystal ball".

But he turned the heat up on Sinn Féin for not using its votes in Westminster.

He described Mary Lou McDonald's party as "unusual" because it "isn't taking up its seats in Westminster for one reason and it isn't taking up its seats in Stormont for another".

Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin had "no intention of standing aside and abandon our mandate".

Irish Independent

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