Adams challenges Government on NI status in Brexit talks

Sinn Féin leader criticises lack of consultation with Dáil as Bruton cites EU duties

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams: said briefing meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Brexit position paper was a “farce”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams: said briefing meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Brexit position paper was a “farce”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has challenged the Government to explain why it is not seeking a special status for Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.

Mr Adams said the people in the North had voted to remain part of the European Union.

He asked Minister for Education Richard Bruton, who was taking Opposition Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil yesterday, why the Government was not pursuing the issue.

“Tell us that, Minister,” he added. “Riddle me that.”

Mr Bruton said Ireland’s special position had been recognised in every dimension sought by the Government on Brexit.

The Government, he added, had a clear strategy to protect the peace process, the Common Travel Area, ensure there was no hard Border and guarantee the protection of trade.

“Those issues, at that time, were the goals of the Government,” he added.

‘Farce’

Earlier, Mr Adams said the party leaders had been invited to a briefing from Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the Government’s position paper on Brexit. He said the meeting was a “farce”, with no advance copy of the document available.

That meant, he added, a discussion on the Government’s published approach was not possible and the meeting was effectively abandoned.

“I think this reflects the Government’s persistent refusal to properly consult with the leaders of the Opposition on important issues like this,” he added.

Mr Bruton said the EU had set out very clearly the issues of unique concern to Ireland and openly recognised the Good Friday Agreement and the need to recognise what it meant for Northern Ireland into the future.

“It has recognised the need to avoid a hard Border and its importance, not just economically but also politically and for the Common Travel Area,” he added.

Mr Bruton said the Taoiseach and his team had put Ireland in a very strong position.

Mr Adams said everyone in the Government was a negotiator.

“He or she needs to have substantive, definitive, clear and unqualified commitments, rather than wishy-washy rhetoric,” he added.

He said it was clear Brexit would have a serious and detrimental effect on Irish jobs and businesses, particularly in agriculture and agrifood.