Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Brexit Lisa Chambers TD has accused the government of refusing to adequately answer questions on Brexit preparedness and contingency planning. Chambers made her comments on foot of replies to Parliamentary Questions which she believes are evasive and fail to provide the information that she has requested.
Deputy Chambers explained, “The government is constantly telling us and the public that their Brexit contingency planning is well underway but when questioned on their plans, why are Departments unable to give a straight answer to a straight question?
“I recently asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade Simon Coveney if he expects the 450 customs officials to be hired, in place and adequately trained before 29 March 2019 but instead of answering the question directly the Tánaiste skirted around the issue. I also tabled a question asking if all government Departments have a contingency plan completed and ready to be operationalised in the event of a no deal Brexit. Again the Tánaiste could not give a straight answer.
“Brexit has the potential to cause severe economic harm to Ireland and as the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Brexit I have a duty to ask these questions and to hold the government to account. The UK and other EU countries such as Holland have been open about their preparations and contingency planning. In July for example the Dutch government confirmed that they had completed the hiring of 1000 new customs officials, yet our government cannot tell us if the 450 customs officials whom they have recently agreed to hire will be in place by March 2019, which is only a few months away.
“I am deeply frustrated by the government’s ongoing evasiveness on this issue and its dismissive attitude to legitimate opposition questions. I have therefore written to the Ceann Comhairle asking him to examine this matter.
“Make no mistake, Fianna Fáil wants the government to secure the best and least disruptive Brexit deal possible, but we have always been cognisant that a no deal Brexit is a possibility. The government on the other hand has been slow to acknowledge and prepare for this and its inability to give direct answers to direct questions only serves to underscore this evasive approach”.