Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Brexit, Stephen Donnelly has criticised the Irish Government for failing to secure a veto for Ireland on any deal regarding Northern Ireland following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
Deputy Donnelly was commenting after it became clear that the Spanish Government have done what the Irish Government failed to do by obtaining a commitment to an effective veto regarding negotiations on Gibraltar.
“Prime Minister Rajoy has effectively obtained a veto on what happens Gibraltar in terms of its future relationship with the EU when the UK withdraws.
“Where was the Taoiseach when this was being agreed?
“The future of Northern Ireland is a much more valid case, I believe, than Gibraltar. When the UK leaves the EU, the single largest concentration of EU citizens living outside the borders of the Union will be in Northern Ireland by virtue of the citizenship rights contained in the Good Friday Agreement.
“Northern Ireland has a population of 1.85 million people versus a population of just 30,000 in Gibraltar.
“Let’s call a spade a spade; the constitutional future of Gibraltar is safe as over 99% of people there have consistently voted to stay connected to the UK. The same cannot be said for Northern Ireland.
“The failure of the Irish Government to seek such a veto over how the EU engages with Northern Ireland is, unfortunately, a major dereliction of duties.
“The question that needs to be asked is: did the Government seek a similar veto and was it rejected, or did they even know such a deal was being agreed with Spain.
“The Irish Government is relying too much on sentiment and is ignoring the need to seek firm agreements, in writing, on the issues that matter to the island of Ireland.
“Additionally, what has been lost in the noise over the past few weeks has been the fact that the future deals with the UK will be decided upon by Qualified Majority Voting where Ireland can be outvoted by a coalition of other EU member states. “Spain, when it comes to Gibraltar, will not have such worries as they have secured an effective veto.
“Cross border trade, and in particular the agri-business sector, as well as the Peace Process in general, are all dependent on the outcome of these negotiations. I am concerned that if an opportunity, such as the one Spain secured, was missed, what else could have been missed by the Irish Government when it comes to these important negotiations,” concluded Donnelly.