Monday 16 September 2019

Coveney accused of giving 'pathetic' answers on 'no-deal' planning

Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Tánaiste Simon Coveney was accused of offering a "pathetic" response to questions raised about the Government's communication of contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.

Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary claimed answers to his Dáil queries were "Andrex Puppy" responses, describing them as "soft and fluffy".

Mr Coveney said he was surprised at the remarks and hit back, telling Mr Calleary it "shows you don't know what you're talking about".

Fianna Fáil has been putting pressure on the Government to publish details of the contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Calleary accused the Government of delaying the publication of its no-deal planning and asked when they would be released so citizens could buy into them. He also asked whether the Government was concerned delays in releasing the plans would undermine their effectiveness.

Mr Coveney insisted that there had been "a huge amount of work in preparation for all contingencies".

He pointed to sectoral seminars being held by the European Commission, including some on aviation, consumer protection, Irish-specific issues, matters relating to tariffs, and industrial goods including pharmaceuticals.

He said future seminars would cover policing, fisheries and the environment.

The Tánaiste said he wanted to reassure the public that this was part of the process of preparations that the Government and the Commission were undertaking, alongside domestic plans that were in place.

Mr Calleary heavily criticised Mr Coveney's answer and asked when the Government would "wake up" and start engaging with the public on contingency planning.

He argued that sectoral seminars "will not bring it home to people the impact on their lives".

Mr Coveney said the Government had provided details of domestic preparations and insisted Fianna Fáil had been briefed in detail on this.

He said the European Commission had published 70 papers on behalf of all member states in areas of EU competence linked to Brexit, saying: "That's how this works."

Mr Coveney added: "We have explained what we are doing in respect of ports, airports and other sectors."

He said he had personally spoken to many people at the Government's 'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready - Brexpro' road-show. He'd attended events in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Letterkenny, Monaghan and Dublin and added that he didn't see too many Fianna Fáil people there.

Mr Coveney said that the Government would be publishing a document on Brexit contingency planning next week.

He said details of the planning would be brought to a stakeholders meeting that includes Opposition parties on Thursday and offered to brief them beforehand if they want.

Irish Independent

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