Tánaiste denies 'misleading' people over border checks

Tánaiste denies 'misleading' people over border checks

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has denied misleading people over possible checks on goods near the border, following criticisms from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Asked by the Irish Examiner this morning on whether he or the government had misled the public after confirmation by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that checks may take place near the border, the Tánaiste replied:

“The government hasn't misled anybody.”

Mr Martin has claimed that both Mr Coveney and Mr Varadkar were “not telling us the truth” about checks.

The Opposition leader also suggested that Mr Varadkar had potentially previously misled the Dáil, by denying to TDs that there would be no checkpoints if there was a no-deal.

Mr Coveney, in comments to the media on the steps of government buildings in July, refused to be drawn on where or how checks would take place, even though it was admitted then for the first time they would be needed if Britain crashes out of the EU.

Nonetheless, he insisted then there would be no checks “on the border or close to it”.

Mr Coveney, in January, also was recorded warning government colleague Shane Ross about discussing border checks with the media, after the Transport Minister suggested checks would be inevitable.

The Tánaiste told his Cabinet colleague not to discuss this for fear “that all of a sudden we’ll be the Government that reintroduced a physical border on the island of Ireland”.

Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney

Mr Varadakar, at a business dinner last week, for the first time admitted checks on goods could take place near the border.

Mr Coveney is also set to brief Opposition leaders today about talks with the EU over no-deal Brexit contingency plans.

Details of this have been kept under wraps in Government Buildings but centre around how Ireland would protect the EU's single market and its trading frontier, specifically the passing of goods from the North into the South, in the event of a disorderly Brexit.

Mr Martin and other Opposition leaders are expected to quiz government members when the Dáil resumes next week about why they changed their position on checks being near the border after denying this before the summer break.

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