Sinn Féin demands €2bn stabilisation fund amid Brexit fallout

The Government must create a €2bn Brexit stabilisation fund, strengthen the rights of workers at risk of a Brexit “race to the bottom” and impose a border poll deadline if the EU and UK fail to strike a deal by the end of next month.

These demands will be made in a detailed Brexit preparedness plan claiming to highlight gaps in the existing State defences, which is due to be published by Sinn Féin this afternoon.

The 40-page plan claims that despite the Government publishing a 100-page no-deal contingency document in December and rushing through legal changes, it is failing to ensure all areas are covered.

And while the allegation will be strongly denied by Fine Gael, the calls for further defences to be introduced are likely to further stoke concerns over the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on this country.

In its plan, which has been seen by the Irish Examiner, Sinn Féin has called on the Government to:

  • Establish a €2bn ring-fenced Brexit stabilisation fund to ensure at-risk firms are certain they will be financially supported.
  • Overhaul the Brexit loan scheme.
  • Ensure the EU eases State aid rules, as suggested on Wednesday by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker after meeting Leo Varadkar.
  • Fast-track ports upgrades and increase road and rail network investment.
  • Improve supports for people on low wages to help them cope with any impact on rental, employment and shopping costs.
  • Seek to guarantee the rights of people in Northern Ireland to vote in EU elections.
  • Draw up a bilateral agreement with Britain to ensure the Common Travel Area remains untouched.
  • Outline a short timeline for a border poll in the event the EU and the UK fail to strike a Brexit deal by the end of next month.

The demands are likely to spark further debate over how prepared Ireland is for a no-deal Brexit.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney have repeatedly stressed in recent months that the Government is putting all necessary preparations in place to help businesses and workers — a view restated by European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee and junior finance minister Michael D’Arcy yesterday.

In addition, while Sinn Féin’s border poll timeline call follows their continuous demands for a united Ireland vote due to the Brexit fallout, the Government has stressed that now is not the time for the issue to be raised.

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