Statement by Brendan Howlin TD on Northern Ireland

Issued 14 February 2018

Speaking on the collapse of talks to restore devolved Government in Northen Ireland, Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin said:

“Not for the first time in the last year attempts to reinstate the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement have failed because one side fears that their base will not tolerate a concession to the other side.

"In this case it appears to be the DUP, last year it was Sinn Féin.

"This is a tragedy because the overarching issue of Brexit has the potential to do untold damage to the people and the economy of Northern Ireland, to the tune of 12% in the worst possible scenario according to the British Government’s own assessments.
Now it appears it will remain without devolved government, and this is particularly significant because the DUP are failing to represent or articulate the concerns of the anti-Brexit majority in Northern Ireland.

"The breakdown also has implications for Ireland. The economic report this week outlined the threat to the capacity of the economy in the Republic to grow to its full potential if there is a hard Brexit and the opportunity that a restoration of the Executive would have offered to voice those concerns will not materialise. Ultimately, these are people’s livelihood's we are talking about.

"This comes at a time when the British Government is flailing around looking for alternatives to the commitments it offered up last December, and Ireland merits not a mention in a much trumped speech by the British Foreign Secretary.

"The Taoiseach, having oversold his deal in December and having travelled to Northern Ireland to cut the ribbon on a new deal, is looking increasingly out of touch.

"At precisely the time when the island of Ireland most badly needed to make its voice heard in these discussions, that will not now happen and no blame game changes that hard reality."