Taoiseach denies suppressing Brexit report in heated Dáil exchange

Micheál Martin says it was ‘bad faith’ not to share report Revenue Commissioners’ report

The Taoiseach has denied he suppressed a Brexit report on implications for the Border in heated Dáil exchanges with the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Leo Varadkar was replying on Wednesday to Mr Martin's claim that it was "bad faith'' on the part of the Taoiseach and the Government not to share the report drawn up by the Revenue Commissioners.

Rounding on Mr Martin, the Taoiseach said: "Is Fianna Fáil, the republican party, arguing now we should start training up Border guards, getting dogs ready, checking out sights for Border posts and truck stops ?''

Mr Varadkar said Mr Martin's outrage did not seem genuine to him, given that everybody knew of the consequences of a hard Border for Ireland.


The only solution was a political one, he added.

Mr Martin said it had been revealed by RTÉ's European correspondent Tony Connelly that the Revenue Commissioners had undertaken very comprehensive and substantive work relating to the implications of Brexit on the trading relationship between Ireland and Britain.

The report said there would be an enormous physical and economic impact on the country and on trade, and would be significant in terms of the customs’ infrastructure, he added.

“In essence, Taoiseach, this report was buried by you and the Government,’’ he added.

Mr Martin said Mr Varadkar's predecessor Enda Kenny had said he would share that kind of information with the Oireachtas.

“I see no logic or rationale as to why this report was suppressed,’’ he added.

Mr Varadkar said he had read the desktop report recently and had certainly not suppressed it.

It was a report from 2015 and he had not known it had existed and he had no difficulty in having it published, he said.

Mr Martin said there were 91,000 Irish companies trading with the UK that needed to know the bread and butter of what Brexit would look like.

“The people working at the coal face in Revenue have been doing this very commendable work indeed,’’ he added.

“Enormous paperwork will ensue and there will be enormous implications for human resources, physical space requirements and storage facilities for import and export.’’

Mr Martin said the report also made some very strong points, including the very obvious one that once negotiations had been completed the UK would become a third country for customs purposes and the associated formalities would become unavoidable.

“While this will affect all member states, the effect will be more profound in Ireland as the only EU country with a land border with the UK,’’ he added.

Mr Varadkar said the report’s conclusions should not surprise anyone.

If no customs union partnership was agreed with the UK, if there were no special arrangements for Northen Ireland, and there was a hard Brexit, then it would produce exactly those results, he added.

“It would result in enormous cost and enormous bureaucracy for business, along with customs posts, border guards, truck stops and all of the various things we are working so hard to avoid,’’ the Taoiseach added.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times