'Undermining' of fall-back plan to avoid hard border of 'grave concern' - Fianna Fail

Fianna Fail business spokesman Billy Kelleher

Cormac McQuinn

FIANNA Fáil has said any “undermining” of the fall-back plan to avoid hard border in Ireland after Brexit is of “grave concern”.

And the party’s business spokesman Billy Kelleher claimed that if Fianna Fáil had been involved in talks it would have tried to prevent the issue becoming “isolated” in the negotiations.

Mr Kelleher also called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to clarify his remarks where expressed an openness to consider proposals for a review of any backstop arrangements.

The proposal has been put forward by British prime minister Theresa May who is today seeking approval from her own Cabinet for plans to avoid a hard border.

Mr Kelleher was asked by reporters if his party would have done anything differently in the Brexit negotiations.

He said the backstop had been sold as a “cast-iron guarantee” and argued that “now we’re finding it at the last moment of negotiations that it is frayed at the edges is an issue of concern.

“Would we have done anything differently? We would have tried to ensure that the backstop wouldn’t have become isolated as it has.”

Mr Kelleher said there’s been “disquiet” since Mr Varadkar made his remarks about Mrs May’s proposal for a backstop review.

He said any dilution of the backstop could “create huge uncertainty” and would be of “grave concern” both politically and economically.

He said that for business “the greatest enemy of investment is uncertainty”.

Mr Kelleher added: “we do need to find out what the Taoiseach means by a review of the backstop”.

Mr Varadkar’s office has said that the outcome of any review of the backstop could not involve a unilateral decision to end it.

His party colleague Thomas Byrne highlighted how Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin wrote to Mr Varadkar to seek agreement that the two parties don’t bring the government down while any Brexit deal is being ratified.

Mr Byrne said: “Our offer in terms of no election actually hasn’t been accepted by the Taoiseach. He hasn’t actually done anything about it”.

He claimed this is “unwise” and added: “we’re still maintaining our position. It’s too important for the country.”