A no-deal Brexit scenario would be “disastrous” for Ireland and the Government must publish its contingency plans, the Dail has heard.
A British crash out in March will see accelerated recruitment and redeployment of staff to ensure Ireland's border is properly maintained, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said.
Under mounting pressure to publish its no-deal contingency planning, Mr Varadkar said Government agencies are “engaging in detailed preparedness and contingency planning”.
However, the Government has repeatedly insisted it is not preparing for the return of a hard border, which a no deal would cause, though sources have indicated otherwise.
Mr Varadkar said the Government at several recent Cabinet meetings, including one last week discussed Brexit preparedness and contingency planning and agreed a range of important actions for the necessary checks and controls for trade on an east-west basis.
“The Government sanctioned the recruitment of additional staff for customs and sanitary and phytosanitary controls, as well as information and communications technology and infrastructure actions at our ports and airports,” he said. “In a no-deal scenario, various actions could be employed, including accelerated recruitment and rapid redeployment of staff. Many issues will need to be dealt with on an EU-wide basis. The contingency action plan that was published by the European Commission recently covered eight particular areas,” he added.
Business Minister Heather Humphreys said the Government said all scenarios are being prepared for including a no deal but added: "It is not helpful to discuss the no-deal scenario at this time."
Labour leader Brendan Howlin said that after two and a half years of wrangling, we still have no solution that we believe will command a majority in Westminster. He said there is a growing likelihood that the deal that has been negotiated will not command a majority in the House of Commons next week.
He asked would the Irish Government support a postponement of the implementation of Article 50? What, in the Taoiseach's view, would be the attitude of the other 26 member states to such a proposal?
Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said we have also seen the parliamentary manoeuvres by British Labour party Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer, in forcing the publication of the advice of the UK Attorney General.He said in many ways this illustrates the strength of the British Parliament, its parliamentary tradition and its power vis-à-vis the UK Executive. “It is something we might look at here?” he asked.
Mr Varadkar said: “I am not sure if the UK Parliament is an example we want to follow given the chaos we are seeing in Westminster. The agreement we have, took 18 months to negotiate. It is 500 pages long and 28 Governments agreed to it. The suggestion that somehow if it is defeated we would find ourselves negotiating with a parliament really is quite unworkable."