The publication of the British government’s white paper on Brexit is a starting point for meaningful negotiations with the EU.
We need to secure the best outcome for Ireland and the least damaging Brexit possible.
From a North-South and East-West perspective Ireland is particularly exposed to the impact of Brexit more so than any other EU member state.
It poses significant risks to Ireland’s peace and economic prosperity.
Fianna Fáil hopes that a no-deal scenario can be avoided, but the government must be prepared for all eventualities.
It is imperative that ministers move on from talking about contingency planning to developing concrete strategies in place to cover all possible scenarios.
We must work with every member state to ensure we secure the best Brexit deal possible for Ireland, the EU and the UK.
The white paper, which runs to 104 pages, makes only one reference to the backstop, claiming that a customs partnership will allow the UK to maintain frictionless trade with the EU, avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.
This is far from certain, and an explicit reference to a backstop must be made in the final document to ensure that there can be no possibility of a hard border between North and South.
There can be no backtracking on this issue.
The scenes witnessed over the past few nights in Northern Ireland once again shines a light on the fragility of peace on this island.
We must ensure that the Good Friday Agreement is safeguarded and upheld in full.
Furthermore, there can be no time limit set on any backstop that is agreed.
Our businesses, farmers and SME’s need more support and safeguards in place so that whatever comes to pass they are prepared and insulated from the worst effects of Brexit.
Lisa Chambers TD, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Brexit