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Monday 23 October 2017

Germans tell Irish that the British are a 'disgrace'

Ray Butler. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Ray Butler. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Senior German politicians told an Oireachtas delegation who travelled to the Bundestag that British politicians are a "disgrace" and their response to Brexit is "farcical".

Two Irish senators and a TD were briefed by the German parliament's finance committee on Britain's decision to leave the EU.

Fine Gael senator Ray Butler, who attended the meeting, said the German politicians launched a scathing attack on their counterparts in Britain.

The German finance committee had recently returned from a visit to Westminster where they met their British counterparts, according to Mr Butler.

"They said they met the finance committee in London and they were shocked by the way they handled themselves," Mr Butler said.

"They said they were making it up as the went along and were very poorly prepared for Brexit.

"It was actually farcical is what they said. They came out of the meeting very bemused and annoyed," he added.

Independent senator Gerard Craughwell, who led the Irish group to the Bundestag, confirmed that the German politicians raised "deep concerns" about the UK's preparedness for Brexit.

"They found the British finance committee unprepared for Brexit and said they didn't seem to have considered the impact leaving the EU would have on Britain's economy," Mr Craughwell said.

The delegation also included Fianna Fail TD Kevin O'Keeffe.

The politicians were accompanied on the mission by Ireland's Ambassador to Germany Michael Collins.

A report on the Ireland-Germany parliamentary friendship group's visit to the Bundestag notes disappointment in Britain's decision to leave the EU by both German and Irish politicians.

The report states that it was a shared view that the UK "acted irresponsibly" and was "ill prepared" for the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

"Both sides agreed that there was no 'upside' to Brexit, and while there were significant bilateral issues for many countries, it was essential that the EU27 act in the best interests of the EU as a whole," the report said.

The group met a number of key German politicians and officials during the three-day visit.

Brexit was the main focus of the trip and the Irish delegation emphasised the impact Britain leaving the EU would have on Ireland's economy.

"The delegation continually stressed that it remains essential that our EU partners, especially Germany, are aware of the unique implications of Brexit for Ireland," the report said

"Flexible and imaginative solutions are required to address the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland, in particular with a view to avoiding a hard border, which are compatible with protecting the integrity of the Single Market and Ireland's place in it," it added.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that she wanted to fight to make the EU stronger.

"If Europe is stronger, then Germany will be stronger. This is directly related," the chancellor said.

Speaking two months before a federal election in Germany, the German chancellor was seeking to underline her personal determination to deepen European integration if she is re-elected for a fourth term - as she is widely predicted to do.

Sunday Independent

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