ianna Fáil Spokesperson on Brexit, Stephen Donnelly TD has said that the UK Government’s acceptance that it has financial obligations to the EU as a departing member state could speed up the negotiations directly affecting Irish trade interests.

Deputy Donnelly was commenting following comments by Joyce Anelay MP, a UK Brexit Minister, ahead of the next set of negotiations on Monday, where she accepted that the UK would have to meet its financial obligations to the EU as it leaves the Union.

Article 50 of the EU Treaties, which allows for member states to depart expressly references the need for states to meet their financial obligations to the union.

“Whilst no final figure has been agreed, the acknowledgement, I believe, can speed up the initial negotiations related to exiting the Union, and precipitate a speedier start to the negotiations on the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the European Union, and, in particular, with Ireland.

“This is the crucial stage of negotiations for our country. The UK’s relationships with the EU with regard to trade, free movement of people, and access to the Single Market etc. are all dependent on this section of the negotiations.

“Ireland imports 28% of its goods from the UK and exports 12%. Any barriers to this relationship will have a seriously negative impact on Ireland’s economy, and in particular, the wellbeing of the Irish SME and agri-business sector.

“This sector suffered very bad during the recession, and any hit from Brexit may jeopardise many thousands of regional jobs that are already hard come by.

“As important as the trading relationships are, the rights of EU citizens living in Northern Ireland by virtue of them having Irish citizenship will be a major component of the first phase of the negotiations. For Ireland, this is crucially important.

“Minister Anelay’s acceptance that the UK must meet its financial obligations, in effect, takes the dead dog off the road.

“The UK paying what it owes has been a stumbling block over the last number of months to reaching the next stage of negotiations.

“The clock on the UK leaving the Union is ticking. Agreement and consensus on what the EU’s relationship with the United Kingdom will be after they leave is needed as quickly as possible so Irish business and agriculture can start to adequately prepare.

“It’s in no one’s interest for the UK to leave without a comprehensive agreement in place. As we know all too well, Ireland is the member state most exposed to a Hard Brexit. Today’s announcement may well prove to be a turning point,” concluded Donnelly.