Varadkar administration praised for Brexit stance

Posted By: June 30, 2020

Paul Ainsworth. Irish News. Belfast. Monday, June 30, 2020

THE outgoing government led by Leo Varadkar has been praised for its stance during difficult Brexit talks and ensuring that no new border infrastructure will separate the two parts of Ireland.

Irish-American businessman Frank Costello paid tribute to the “vigilance” of the former taoiseach and his team during negotiations between the UK and European Union.

Belfast-based Mr Costello, a former chief of staff to Congressman Joseph P Kennedy II and fellow of Queen’s University’s Centre for Conflict Transformation, also said he believed the new administration led by Micheál Martin would continue to present a “united front” as the end of the Brexit transition period approaches.

Under a deal between Brussels and London, the north is set to continue to follow EU rules on agricultural and manufactured goods and enforce its customs code at its ports from January 2021.

“Full credit must be given to the outgoing Irish government for its constancy in ensuring that the EU held the line during Brexit talks,” Mr Costello said.

“They ensured that the British government has adhered thus far to an agreement that prevents a land border being reimposed on the island of Ireland.”

Mr Costello also paid tribute to engagement between the outgoing Irish administration and the Speaker of the UStates House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, who has warned the UK that a new trade deal with the US would be blocked if the post-Brexit landscape presents a risk to the peace process.

“I’m hopeful that the new taoiseach will continue with this stance, given his constructive support on these issues while he was in opposition. It is important that a united front is upheld as we move towards the crucial next stages of the Brexit process,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has said the British government needs to provide urgent clarity to Warrenpoint Harbour and the local community around post-Brexit checks at the port.

He said in recent days it had been revealed a new 40,000 square-foot checking facility is being proposed for the north’s second biggest port to be compliant with trading regulations on January 1.

The South Down MP said: “The Warrenpoint Harbour Authority and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs have been working round the clock in recent weeks to submit plans for a significant new checking facility at Warrenpoint.

“This would involve the construction of a large inspection facility, office space and HGV parking bays. Given the approaching Brexit deadline, it needs to be done as soon as possible in order for trade to continue post-Brexit in six months’ time.

“Yet there is still much confusion as to what exactly is being proposed; who is footing the bill; and when construction will begin.

“The British government must urgently put its cards on the table and bring some transparency to this process.”