Brexit: Martin amazed work on Revenue report stopped

Fianna Fáil leader says ‘suppression’ of report until this week is a ‘disservice’ to debate

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has claimed a Revenue report compiled last year was not published until this week because its content did not suit the political narrative.

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said it beggars belief that work by the Revenue into the potential impact of Brexit on the Border with Northern Ireland ceased in September 2016.

In report compiled by the Revenue and published last week it warns an open Border between the Republic and Northern Ireland is not possible and customs checks and visible border controls may be required.

The report concludes it is naive to believe a unique arrangement can be negotiated and applied to the Ireland and United Kingdom.

Three or four designated crossings may be applied to the Border between the North and Republic, which is 500kms in length, it said.

However, it adds: “A final scenario of somewhere in the region of eight designated crossing points is not inconceivable.”

“The staffing and infrastructure costs associated with such an outcome, along with the physical infrastructure required to facilitate efficient processing at these sites, will make this a significant project.”

Revenue began this work before the result of the British referendum was known. Its work on the report ended in September 2016.

Revenue report

Speaking at his party’s ard fheis in the RDS on Saturday Mr Martin claimed the Revenue report had been suppressed by the Government because it did not suit its political narrative.

All options must be considered whether Ireland likes it or not, he added.

Fianna Fáil’s position is it does not want a hard imposed and believes Northern Ireland should be declared a special economic zone.

Mr Martin said: “There is a real battle to keep the realities of Brexit to the fore and in the public domain. The Taoiseach and the Government have not served the nation well by not sharing this information.”

‘Not served the country well’

The party passed a motion without debate to introduce an electronic, frictionless border in the style of M50 style toll system between the North and South.

He said the “suppression” of the Revenue Commissioners document until this week was a “disservice” to public debate on Brexit.

“The Taoiseach and the Government have not served the country well by not sharing this vital information with us,” Mr Martin said.

He said it “illustrates, really, a very fundamental point about the Government’s behaviour in relation to Brexit”.

He accused the Fine Gael-Independent coalition of “hiding the truth from the people in relation to the full realities of Brexit”.

“It seems to be that Revenue were stood down, in relation to the work they were doing, and this report was buried. The content of that report didn’t suit the political narrative.”

The Cork South Central TD said British prime minister Theresa May, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and former taoiseach Enda Kenny had consistently said that Border on the island of Ireland would be “frictionless”.

He added that anyone with any common sense understood “it cannot be a frictionless border” if Britain is outside the customs union and single market and that there had been an “air of unreality” about the discussions in on Brexit in recent months.

“I think a great disservice has been done to public debate by the suppression of that document because I think it is important that we still have to go out there and win the hearts and minds of the British people around Brexit.

“There is a sense out there that everyone is hoping that everything will turn out alright on the night kind of thing and at the end of the day it will all work itself out. We do have to prepare for every scenario. And that means, do not suppress the work of the agencies.”