Paschal Donohoe dismisses post-Brexit all-Ireland agrifood proposal

Paschal Donohoe dismisses post-Brexit all-Ireland agrifood proposal
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe

A post-Brexit all-Ireland proposal for agrifood has been dismissed by finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, as insufficient to replace the backstop.

Speaking in London as Prime Minister Boris Johnson travelled to Dublin, Mr Donohoe told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "As of this point in time my understanding is that the detail of how this would work is yet to be fleshed out."

The minister said the proposal does not go far enough as it fails to adequately cover issues of trade and how best to protect peace on the island of Ireland.

"But to any extent, to any point, this is something that only covers off a portion of the trade between the United Kingdom and on the island of Ireland and would not be a solution that would deal with all the other issues that we have to manage in terms of the flow of trade and also the protection of the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

He also was not positive about the ability of a trusted trader scheme or new technology to prevent a hard border on the island: "What I would say to those who are putting those ideas forward is we are yet to see examples of how they would work not only on our island but anywhere else in the world.

"To be in a situation where we would have one part of our island inside the single market and the other outside the single market is a very, very testing challenge for alternative arrangements."

Ireland would be in favour of extending the October 31 deadline for Britain to leave the European Union to mitigate possible risks to the Northern Irish peace process and damage to its economy, Mr Donohoe said.

“I think it would be reasonable to say that from our point of view we would be in favour of an extension that would create the space to hopefully conclude where we are,” he told BBC radio.

But it is a matter that needs full agreement across the European Council.

Mr Donohoe said that it's up to Boris Johnson "to put forward their ideas to explain how they might be better than what currently has been agreed” on the Irish backstop.

Mr Donohoe warned that the deal “only covers a portion of the trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland and would not be a solution that would deal with all the other issues”.

The Dublin Central TD said that the Irish Government would favour granting an extension if it delivered real and meaningful progress to solving Brexit dilemma.

However, he did concede that there is growing opposition at EU Council level to further extensions without any sign of progress:

It is reasonable to say, we would be in favour of an extension to create the space to find a solution but warned it would need total agreement across the EU Council of all 28 countries.

The French Government has come out in recent days saying it is opposed to any further extensions.

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