Taoiseach's confidence on Brexit tough to explain- Howlin

Issued 8 November 2017

Labour leader and party spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brendan Howlin TD, has queried the basis for the Taoiseach’s assertion that the Brexit talks could progress beyond the initial stage following the European Council in December.

Deputy Howlin said:

“While we would all like to imagine that significant progress can be made on alleviating the impact of Brexit, I don't understand the basis for the Taoiseach's confidence today.

"While the British Prime Minister has been keen to talk up progress, the Irish side has continuously pointed out the lack of detail from the British side. Has that changed to allow the Taoiseach be optimistic, because if so he should make public what changes those are.

"While the Irish issue is not the only issue holding up talks, from our perspective, it is the one that matters. We need to be careful here. We cannot have a situation arise because of complacency on our side that progress on issues like the Brexit price tag, hinted at the weekend in the UK papers, or on the position of EU nationals, creates the momentum required to progress the issue in the absence of progress on Ireland.

"I accept there is a difficult balancing act here, but to suggest, as the Taoiseach does, that we will not be able to determine the nature of the Irish relationship until further progress is made on other issues, flies in the face of the Irish issue being unique and requiring sufficient progress before other issues are addressed.

"If the Taoiseach based his assertions today on new information, then he should make it clear. For my part, I believe we should remain cautious about abandoning the leverage we maintain in the phase one talks until we have certainty about the island of Ireland issue.”