Simon Coveney launches emergency measures to protect Ireland in event of no-deal Brexit

Simon Coveney launches emergency measures to protect Ireland in event of no-deal Brexit
Simon Coveney at the launch of the legislation. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has launched emergency measures to protect Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit, while warning that the Irish backstop will “not be jettisoned” by the EU at the last minute.

Mr Coveney said his only desire was to see the emergency laws "sit on a shelf" but they were needed to ensure that services, transport and arrangements with the UK continue to work.

And in strong defence of the measure to guarantee there will be no border if Britain crashes out of the EU, Mr Coveney said the Irish backstop was “fiercely” supported by people it was designed to protect.

The coalition's Omnibus Bill crosses nine government departments and is made up of 15 parts. The extensive legislation will help protect Irish citizens, support businesses and jobs, and secure ongoing access to services and products, the government say.

Areas covered under the emergency legislation include facilitating continued access to cross border health services, measures to support vulnerable firms, securing the all-island electricity market and enabling the ongoing availability of grants and insurance products.

The emergency legislation will also allow for the continued payouts of different types dozens of welfare payments both here and in the UK for thousands of citizens from either country. There are also measures to ensure bus and rail services continue across the border.

According to a timetable for the emergency laws, they will begin their passage in the Dáil next week with the house scheduled to sit until 11pm in the coming days while the Omnibus Bill will then move to report and final stage in the Dail the following week before entering the Seanad on the week of March 11.

Government figures have said this allows a two-week sitting period afterwards if there are any problems before the measures are signed into law by the Brexit deadline of March 29.

While there is broad agreement among the Opposition to support the Omnibus Bill, Mr Coveney did warn of the consequences in general of Britain crashing out of the EU on March 29 without a deal.

He said a hard Brexit would be “a major shock” to our economy and Westminster was the only place which could take a no deal off the table.

Speaking about the new legislation, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "Our focus remains on the UK ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement, which was concluded following intensive negotiations between the UK and the EU.

"However, for the last two years we have also been preparing for the possibility that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.

"We are doing all we can to avoid a no-deal scenario, but we need to be ready in case it does happen.

"This special law enables us to mitigate against some of the worst effects of no deal by protecting citizens' rights, security, and facilitating extra supports for vulnerable businesses and employers."

- additional reporting by Press Association

Earlier: Government to publish proposals aimed at limiting damage of no deal Brexit

The Government will publish proposals aimed at blunting the effects of a no deal Brexit this morning.

The Brexit Omnibus Bill will try to limit the damage done if the UK crashes out of Europe next month.

This bill has 15 parts covering nine government departments.

Simon Coveney launches emergency measures to protect Ireland in event of no-deal Brexit

It aims to address a range of issues that could be faced if no Brexit deal is reached by politicians in the next few weeks.

It is one of the most wide-ranging pieces of legislation seen in the Oireachtas in the last few years.

It will aim to ensure the status quo for Irish and UK citizens when it comes to accessing healthcare, social welfare payments and employee protections.

The bill contains provisions to make sure buses and trains can still travel into Northern Ireland without needing to be stopped.

It aims to ease the impact on businesses by making sure tax reliefs and allowances will continue as normal.

Measures are in there to make sure Irish students in the UK can access SUSI grants.

European Arrest Warrants will not apply to the UK after Brexit - so laws need to be tweaked to allow extradition both ways.

This mammoth piece of legislation is going to dominate time in the Dáil and Seanad over the coming weeks.

And while the Government hopes many of the measures will never actually be needed, this late in the game they need to prepare for all scenarios

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