Government needs to come clean on likely no-deal Brexit, says Micheál Martin

‘Public needs to know now what plans are in place,’ says Fianna Fáil leader

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin wants the Government to admit that a no-deal Brexit is now the expected outcome rather than a fear and also need to be transparent with the public about their plans.

The issue is too important to be left until October 31st, the public needs to know now what plans are in place, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Seán O’Rourke show.

Mr Martin dismissed speculation that Fine Gael is preparing for a general election. "Fine Gael and the Taoiseach keep floating the idea of an election, but what is needed is details of preparations for a no-deal Brexit."

The Government needs to be more transparent with the public. People need to know what kind of checks will be required in the event of a no-deal Brexit, added Mr Martin.

He was still of the view that there should not be a general election this year. He took that view last December in the national interest because of the threat of Brexit, he said.

State of readiness

Mr Martin said he was “deeply concerned” about the state of readiness for a no-deal Brexit especially for ports where he feared there would be a disruption to the transport of goods - outward and inward. “There is not enough detail yet.”

Politicians have an obligation to protect people’s livelihoods, he said, adding that he was “acutely aware” of what the impact of a no-deal Brexit would be to the public.

With regard to the forthcoming budget, Mr Martin said “everything is open to reasonable discussion”. There needs to be honesty and transparency about the health budget in particular, he said.

The Government is not being honest in that it keeps making demands on the service, but is failing to provide resources, he said. There is a disconnect between the “Minister’s rhetoric” and the reality on the ground.

Playing games

Politics is not about playing games in an arena, it is about people’s lives, people who will suffer because of Brexit, he added. In the event of a no-deal Brexit “we will be in a difficult situation” and the amount of public funding will be under pressure for the health service and housing.

On the issue of possible tax concessions, Mr Martin said he wants full transparency on what is available – what will happen if there is a no-deal Brexit, how much will there be to spend on health and housing. The fact that it had taken nine months to publish the health capital budget for 2019 was an indication of “the lack of control and command” of the Government, he said.

“The over-riding failure of this government has been their inability to deliver on their promises.”

Given the changes witnessed following the local elections earlier this year and in the event of a general election, the next Dáil will “potentially look very different”, Mr Martin said.