Ireland’s economy “threatened by Tory fundamentalists”

Posted By: December 13, 2018

Opposition leader says Ireland is not ready for no-deal Brexit

Lisa O’Carroll. The Guardian. London.Wednesday, December 12,  2018


Ireland’s economy is in “heightened danger” because of a “fundamentalist fringe” in the Conservative party, the leader of the country’s opposition party has said.

In a rare break in the unified front over Brexit in Irish politics, Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil has said “Ireland is nowhere near ready for many of the outcomes which have become far more likely in recent days,” including no deal.

He said his party’s decision not to pull the rug from under the Varadkar deal had ensured Ireland “has delivered a very stable parliament” in contrast to the UK.

“I don’t think Ireland can indulge in four to five months of politicking given the very significant threat of Brexit,” he told reporters.

But Martin, whose party is propping up the minority government of the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, pulled back from triggering a general election process, arguing it was not in the national interest during such precarious times.

Announcing he would be extending the confidence and supply agreement with the Fine Gael party, he said the “contagion of political chaos will not spread here from London.”

Martin said the extension of the deal with Varadkar would allow the country to introduce any emergency legislation and budgets that might be needed because of what is happening in Westminster.

In a lengthy statement, Martin said Wednesday’s confidence vote was the result of a “fundamentalist group” in the Tories that “seem to be determined to destroy all around them rather than ever compromise.”

“Their extreme Europhobia has developed over 40 years, and it will not respond to evidence or reason,” he said.

Martin’s remarks will be seen as a veiled attack on Varadkar, who has come under fire in the Dáil in the past two days over contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.

The country’s leaders have repeatedly said Brexit is the single biggest danger to the country, with some analysts suggesting the economy, which is one of the fastest growing in Europe, would be pushed into recession.

Martin’s statement is a significant development in Irish politics since the Brexit referendum with all parties including Sinn Féin and Labor showing unwavering support to Varadkar and his deputy, Simon Coveney, during negotiations as part of a strategy of national unity.

His statement is also a break with government strategy of not commenting on British politics.

“The fact is that this is at its core not about negotiations with the EU – it is about a debate within British politics and society which we have little or no influence on. It would be wonderful to be able to dismiss what is happening in London as a sideshow but we cannot. Ireland and Europe are directly impacted,” he said.

“While Prime Minister May works to salvage the current deal, she is confronted with a political class which has descended into open warfare between angry factions.”