Today, during Leaders’ Questions, Deputy Broughan asked the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to confirm that no works of any kind are taking place anywhere along the border on roads or laybys to facilitate the installation of any border apparatus. Deputy Broughan also noted that much of the proposed Irish legislation, the Omnibus Bill, in e.g. health, education and pensions, protects the rights of UK residents and citizens in the Republic and asked, in the case of a No Deal Brexit, will there be similar UK legislation protecting the rights of our people in the North and in England, Scotland and Wales and whether negotiations to that effect are being undertaken with the UK.
Deputy Broughan commended the work of the civil servants in producing the Contingency Action Plan last December and the heads of the Omnibus Bill last week. Deputy Broughan observed that the seventeen sections prepared by the nine departments seem fairly comprehensive though he raised concerns that areas like fisheries, which are not covered in the Withdrawal Agreement, are again missing. He asked whether all the relevant areas of the 87 EU Commission Preparedness Notices addressed are in the Omnibus Bill or will be in forthcoming secondary legislation.
Deputy Broughan also asked if Ireland would seek a derogation from state aid rules in the event of no deal and if the Minister for Finance has begun negotiating a financial support package for Ireland since we are by far the most impacted country as a result of Brexit. He welcomed the Taoiseach’s report that the Department of Finance is today publishing estimates of the cost of Brexit to the Irish economy and exchequer after March 29th. The Taoiseach also replied to Deputy Broughan’s question if a second Budget 2019 was necessary by stating that there are no plans for a second budget in 2019.
Deputy Broughan says “We all know that Brexit is the single greatest threat to our economy since 1945 and that this evening’s and next month’s votes in Westminster could have a hugely detrimental impact on us. There are fears that full support for the Irish backstop could be waning among some the EU 27 and there are reports that other Brexit-impacted countries like the Netherlands, France and Denmark are also beginning to make bilateral arrangements. We hear, e.g. that the French government is making arrangements with regard to UK/French trade and travel and that the Dutch are also taking steps to protect their agri-food trade with the UK. Of course, several countries in the EU have close functioning relationships with neighbouring third countries and I believe that the Government has the backing of the Dáil to ensure that no hard border returns to the island of Ireland and that the Good Friday Agreement is protected in every respect.”