Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Brexit Stephen Donnelly says that the government must provide clarity to businesses ahead of a vote to move Brexit talks beyond the first phase.

Deputy Donnelly made the comments following seemingly contradictory statements issued by the Taoiseach over the last week in which he stated that Ireland was confident that negotiations would move forward in December. This was followed by a statement in which he said that talks could not move forward without further progress in phase 1 of negotiations.

Deputy Donnelly commented, “The confusion and uncertainty being experienced by Irish business, both North and South is being compounded by the Taoiseach’s statements over the last week. Considering the impasse in negotiation around the border with Northern Ireland, we must at least know what the Irish government wants.

“The UK has stated that it wishes to see Northern Ireland leave both the customs union and the single market and that there will be no ‘unique or special status’. However, all parties agree that we cannot return to the borders of the past.  Research from our own customs officials and from the EU suggests that these are mutually exclusive positions.

“It is deeply concerning that we now have a situation where we do not know if Ireland is willing to push forward to discuss trade without clarity for Northern Ireland. Businesses need clarity, and they need a plan. Despite constant requests for both from Fianna Fáil, they now have neither.

“The government needs to clarify its position regarding the talks – do they still believe talks are likely to move to the next phase in December, as the Taoiseach has said. Or, as Minister Coveney laid out in the Chamber today, are talks at a point where difficult decisions may have to be made in December, regarding Ireland’s support for moving to phase 2?

“At the same time, with both Michel Barnier and the BBC citing the possibility of talks collapsing, Ireland’s government needs to urgently publish detailed sectoral plans, to help businesses plan in this time of uncertainty.”