Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Brexit, Stephen Donnelly has said that the leaked report by the Revenue Commissioners on the challenges of maintaining an open border on the island of Ireland has shown that there are elements within the government more interested in playing party politics than in working on a cross-party basis to prepare Ireland for Brexit.
“The leaking of this report today shows that there are some within Government who are unwilling to share critical pieces of analyses with the Oireachtas at a time when the risks to our country’s future economic prosperity have never been so grave.
“My colleagues and I have consistently requested, from a variety of government departments, to see reports of this nature, and we have been stonewalled.
“The Government has not shown any signs of how it is preparing to deal with these stark challenges. They need to produce a plan, backed up with real finance, to assure businesses and communities that Ireland will be prepared and ready.
“How can we believe what this government is saying on Brexit at all when they refuse to share critical pieces of analyses or their plans on how to prepare and plan with the Oireachtas?
“In my book, the stonewalling of business and farming groups when it comes to this report, and the analysis contained within it, is bizarre and bewildering.
“At every point up until Brexit, we need to be supporting those who are heavily reliant on the UK market, and central to that is the sharing of pertinent information.
“It’s clear, on the basis of this report, that the Taoiseach’s political decision upon assuming office to instruct the Revenue Commissioners to desist from any customs’ contingency planning in the event of a hard Brexit was short sighted and potentially highly detrimental to Irish interests, both North and South.
“We have already heard of other government departments being told to stand down and stop any Brexit engagement with their UK counterparts. This needs to be revisited given this report.
“The Revenue Commissioners’ report outlines clearly the task facing Ireland in terms of Brexit, and on the basis of this report, it’s very hard to come to any other conclusion that we are heading for a hard border.
“Unless there is a massive change in British party political and government policy in terms of keeping Northern Ireland, and indeed Great Britain, in the Customs Union, Irish business and agriculture face a very uncertain future.
“Given this leaked report it’s very hard not to come to the conclusion that the Government is simply not doing enough to prepare for Brexit – Not enough is being done in terms of contingency planning, preparing farmers and businesses, and expanding Ireland’s economic footprint outside of the UK. I sincerely hope that next week’s Budget will contain significant Brexit initiatives,” concluded Donnelly.