By Juno McEnroe and Fiachra O’Cionnaith
Alternative post-Brexit maritime routes between Ireland and France have been discussed by port authorities as fears of a no- deal exit deepen.
Authorities from ports in Dublin, Rosslare, and Cork, among others, as well as counterparts from north and west France, met in Dublin yesterday.
Brexit implications and the need for alternative routes when Britain leaves the EU formed part of talks, which were overseen by the Department of Transport.
The talks come after the Government last week announced it will hire extra customs officials and veterinary officers, and step up efforts to counteract a disorderly Brexit.
Holly Faulkner, communications manager at the Irish Maritime Development Office, said: “All major Irish ports and a range of ports on the west coast of France, from Bordeaux in the South to Calais in the north [attended].”
She said the meetings were to “strengthen trade links between Ireland and France” and about “the implications of Brexit”.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier met British Brexit secretary Dominic Raab yesterday and rejected a new proposed trade deal.
Britain is proposing to collect EU’s tariffs on goods entering the country in order to avoid border checks.
Mr Barnier said he would be willing to consider including Britain in a customs union.
However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar still believes a deal can be struck.
Speaking in Rome yesterday, he said: “I am confident that we will be able to come to a withdrawal agreement that includes an Irish protocol in October.
“I am confident that it will be possible to get that ratified by Westminster and the EU Parliament before March. I am confident that we’ll be able to achieve what we’re setting out to achieve but we do have to be wise to the possibility that it may fail and there’s lots of different reasons why things might go wrong — not in Ireland or in Europe but potentially in London and that’s why we have to prepare for all eventualities.”