Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Brexit Stephen Donnelly TD has accused the Irish Government of having its head in the sand in the wake of Michel Barnier’s admission that the EU is now planning for a collapse of the Brexit talks.

This warning from the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator comes at the end of a tense week, culminating in him giving the UK 14 days to come back with a viable offer on the Brexit ‘bill’.

It is also clear that insufficient progress has been made on the question of the Irish border. A leaked EU Brexit paper concludes that, if the UK continues with its intention to exit both the single market and the customs union, then border controls around Northern Ireland are inevitable.

Speaking after news of Mr Barnier’s warning, Donnelly commented, “We have been calling for serious Brexit planning all year. The response from the Irish Government has been that Brexit hasn’t happened yet. Promised sectoral plans haven’t emerged, nor even any date for when they might. Customs analysis has been suppressed, in spite of numerous parliamentary questions being tabled.

“And now we have the EU’s chief negotiator warning that EU States must be prepared for a collapse of the talks. A disorderly Brexit could be catastrophic for Ireland, and while the Irish Government is working hard at a diplomatic level on Brexit, domestically they are fast asleep. New research by InterTrade Ireland shows that just one Irish company in twenty affected by Brexit has a Brexit plan. That’s a damning indictment of Government inaction.

“If Fine Gael won’t listen to Fianna Fáil on what preparations are needed, then hopefully they’ll listen to Michel Barnier. The stakes are simply too high for this state of denial to continue. Ireland must be prepared for every eventuality.”