Howlin queries Taoiseach about Irish position on Brexit revealed by May

Issued 3 March 2018

Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin, has called on the Taoiseach to clarify remarks pertaining to his position on Brexit made by the British Prime Minister, Teresa May, in her speech on Brexit yesterday.

Deputy Hoqlin said:

"Specifically, Mrs May indicated that she and the Taoiseach agreed that both countries, Ireland and the United Kingdom, would work alongside the European Commission on a solution for the Irish border question.

"In effect, Mrs May is suggesting that the Taoiseach has taken on a shared responsibility to find a solution to the impossible conundrum that May and her Government have created."

The direct quote is as follows:

“And the Taoiseach and I agreed when we met recently that our teams and the Commission should now do just that.”

Deputy Howlin continued:

"It would appear also that this reference, which is not in the Taoiseach’s statement, is being spun heavily by Downing Street as progress in and of itself.

"If accurate Mrs May’s statement represents a significant departure from the previous Irish Government position which was that it was up to the UK Government to resolve the problem that it alone was causing.

"The danger with this policy shift is that it will allow the UK to obfuscate responsibility on a question on which there is no realistic solution on offer.

"It is a widely accepted that the UK Government’s decision to leave the single market and the customs union is at the heart of this problem and it is this UK Government position that renders the problem so intractable.

"For those of us who don’t want to see either north/south equally importantly east/west trade impacted, we are being placed in an impossible position by Mrs May whose mandate on this critical question is due to be tested in the House of Commons in the coming weeks.

"The Taoiseach should not have afforded Ireland any responsibility for this particular problem, as Mrs May implies, at a time when we have successfully persuaded the Official Opposition in the UK that it will do untold damage to the Irish, Northern Ireland and UK economies."