Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has welcomed the decision taken by the British Labour Party to commit itself to continued UK membership of the EU single market and customs union during a transition period from March 2019 onwards.

Deputy Martin said, “The decision taken by the Labour Party is a positive development. It is a sensible decision and one which my colleagues and I welcome. There is now an onus on all Government’s across Europe to prevent a hard Brexit from occurring and to look at all options that would ensure Britain’s continued membership of the customs union during an extended transitional period.

“Keeping Britain in the single market and customs union is essential for Ireland. The Government must do everything it can to help make this a reality. A hard Brexit would be disastrous for Ireland and would cause serious damage to our strong relationship with Britain. It is also in Ireland’s interest to see the UK and Northern Ireland remain in the customs union in order to prevent the imposition of border controls on the island of Ireland.

“The Government needs to ensure that Ireland’s voice is heard at the negotiation table and that the real dangers of a hard Brexit are set out in no uncertain terms.

“The decision taken by the Labour Party to shift its policy position shows us that a hard Brexit is far from inevitable. Now is the time for the Irish Government to step up its effort to convince the British Government of the enormous benefits of continued membership of the single market and customs union,” concluded Deputy Martin.