Belfast Telegraph

Irish Government publishes no-deal Brexit legislation

Tanaiste Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
Tanaiste Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

The Irish Government has published a package of legislation that will be enacted to mitigate negative impacts of Brexit in a no-deal scenario.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said a no-deal would be "lose, lose" for Britain and Ireland. He said that while they would do all they can to avoid a no deal, they would have to mitigate for it happening.

The legislation will cover, among other things, cross-border health care and the single electricity market. Students studying in Ireland and the UK were also covered.

He said if there was a no-deal, there would have to be conversations between the British and Irish governments on managing the border. He indicated this would likely be similar to arranging something like the controversial backstop.

The Omnibus Bill, which will be fast-tracked through the Oireachtas parliament in Dublin, covers a wide range of governmental functions, and is designed to support businesses and jobs and secure ongoing access to essential services and products.

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."

Speaking at the launch of the no-deal Brexit legislation, Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said: "The Omnibus Bill is the result of more than a year's background work starting with a root and branch review of our legislation to see what actions we need to take to offset the worst effects of a disorderly Brexit.

"As a member of the Dail (parliament) for 21 years, I find myself today having the curious feeling of bringing forward a piece of landmark legislation that I will spend the next three weeks bringing though the Oireachtas, however I hope it proves redundant and I hope we never have to use the provisions set out in this piece of legislation. I hope we never have to commence this bill.

"Simply put, as a result of a lot of hard work my only desire is see this legislation sit on the shelf.

"As this legislation was being painstakingly being prepared by our teams across Government, our focus remained at the time on a fair and robust negotiation between the EU and the UK, that negotiation led to withdrawal agreement.

"Although there are now only 36 days until Brexit, our focus remains on that deal being ratified.

"I know it's hard to believe right now there will be a time hopefully in that not in the too distant future where the word Brexit won't be mentioned every hour and in every speech I make."

Mr Coveney added: "The backstop is a result of a fair negotiation between the EU and the UK. It was designed by the UK and the EU to protect peace on our island.

"The backstop is fiercely supported by the people it is designed to protect, our citizens in the Republic, and British and Irish citizens in Northern Ireland.

"These citizens know what uncertainty feels like and its consequences, they have lived it and they are not going back there.

"They want a workable answer and not wishful thinking."

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