Ireland publishes Omnibus Bill of emergency laws in case of no-deal Brexit
Deputy premier Simon Coveney said he hoped it would never need to be enacted.
The Irish Government has published a wide range of emergency laws that will be enacted if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
The Omnibus Bill, which will be fast-tracked through the Oireachtas parliament in Dublin, is designed to support businesses and jobs impacted by a no-deal and secure ongoing access to essential services and products across the Irish border.
The huge suite of proposed legislation, which will only become law if the UK leaves on March 29 without a deal, was published as the EU Commission confirmed it was relaxing certain state aid regulations in preparation for Brexit – a move that will give the government in Dublin more latitude to offer support to farms and other affected businesses.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “Our focus remains on the UK ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement, which was concluded following intensive negotiations between the UK and the EU.
“However, for the last two years we have also been preparing for the possibility that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.
“We are doing all we can to avoid a no-deal scenario, but we need to be ready in case it does happen.
“This special law enables us to mitigate against some of the worst effects of no deal by protecting citizens’ rights, security, and facilitating extra supports for vulnerable businesses and employers.”
Let me be very clear in saying a disorderly Brexit will be a lose, lose, lose - for the UK, for the EU and for Ireland Simon Coveney
Deputy premier Simon Coveney unveiled the legislative package at Government Buildings in Dublin on Friday morning, but said he hoped the Bill would never need to be enacted.
“My only desire is to see this legislation sit on the shelf,” he said.
Mr Coveney said a no-deal Brexit would cause widespread damage.
“Let me be very clear in saying a disorderly Brexit will be a lose, lose, lose – for the UK, for the EU and for Ireland,” he said.
“We cannot offset all of the damage it will do, but we are doing everything we can through legislation, through preparation, through investment, through information and through support of the multiple sectors and the multiple numbers of people that will be impacted potentially by that worst-case scenario.”
The EU Commission’s move on state aid rules governing the agriculture sector will enable the Irish Government to increase the maximum amount it can use to support farmers without prior Commission approval.
On Friday, the Commission also approved a specific Irish state aid application which will allow a Co Cork cheese company to receive state aid funding to diversify its business away from reliance on the UK market.
Carbery Food Ingredients Ltd, which works with 1,260 farmers, currently produces Cheddar cheese, principally for British consumers.
The 5.75 million euro (£5 million) state aid boost will support the company as it shifts to the production of Mozzarella cheese with the aim of finding new buyers.
The Irish Government’s Omnibus Bill, known as the Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019) Bill, is made up of 15 parts and was prepared by nine ministers.
The proposed laws cover a wide range of areas and focuses on protecting Irish citizens’ rights, supporting businesses and jobs, healthcare, transport, education and energy.
The Bill will be debated in the Dail next week and then in committees the following week, before being debated in the upper chamber, the Seanad.
President Michael D Higgins will sign it into law if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Sinn Fein’s Brexit spokesman David Cullinane said Ireland’s emergency no-deal Bill shows the “sorry state” of Brexit.
Speaking to the press, he said: “We have been reduced to moving emergency legislation in the Dail just to keep very basic but very important services in place (including) access to education and having access to health services north and south, east and west.
“It shows the chaos of Brexit is clear for all to see.
“We will reflect on what is in the Bill but we will also have to reflect on what is not in the Bill.
“It doesn’t deal with the very practical supports that businesses will need especially in the agri-food sector, exporters and SMEs.
“It obviously doesn’t deal with the border and what will happen at the border.
“The obvious that will happen in the event of a hard crash by Britain out of the European Union, and the North being taken against its will out of the Customs Union and Single Market, will be a new frontier on the island of Ireland.”
He also reiterated Sinn Fein’s calls for a referendum on Irish unity.
“Would anyone, apart from the DUP and some unionists, argue that having one part of the island outside the Customs Union and the Single Market, a hardening of the border, the potential of physical infrastructure or some form of checks, would be acceptable to the people of Ireland?” he added.