Fianna Fáil accused of ‘undermining’ Government on Brexit
Tánaiste alleges party’s stance on issue has changed as Donnelly claims Dublin ‘asleep at the wheel’
Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly has described the latest deal on Brexit as a political fudge to allow the talks to move on and kick the can down the road on the Border issue. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.
During sharp Dáil exchanges on Tuesday, Mr Coveney, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, said: “I think it is somewhat regrettable Fianna Fáil seems to be changing its position in terms of how it approaches Brexit, from one of consultation with the Government to one of trying to find ways of undermining and criticising what the Government is trying to do.’’
Mr Coveney said what was agreed between London and Brussels on Monday was exactly in line with what the EU taskforce on Brexit, which included Ireland, actually looked for in terms of transition.
“This is a negotiation,” he added.
The Tánaiste was replying to Fianna Fáil Brexit spokesman Stephen Donnelly, who said his party believed the Tánaiste and the Government had been asleep at the wheel on the issue.
“As you well know, we have supported you on the international aspects of this,” he added. “But that does not mean that we do not come in here and ask you tough questions when we see no progress being made.”
Mr Donnelly said what emerged was a political fudge to allow the talks to move on and kick the can down the road on the Border issue.
“The fear is that as trade talks begin and open Border will become just one of many competing priorities,” he added.
Mr Donnelly said it was not the case that good progress had been made on the Border issue, adding there had in fact been a backward step.
He claimed no progress had been made on the backstop, which would fully align Northern Ireland with EU economic rules and trading regulations to maintain an open Border if it was not resolved by an EU-UK trade deal or specific British proposal. He said the UK had agreed to very little on the Border.
“What they have agreed to is there will be a backstop in the final agreement,” he added.
Mr Donnelly said the British had retained the right to come up with a different backstop, adding they had a much more restrictive interpretation of what it would mean.
Mr Coveney said all of the informed commentary had welcomed the steps forward made on Monday.