Northern Ireland is "too fragile and too important" to be used as a pawn by the UK Government in Brexit talks, Simon Coveney has warned.
In a stern warning to the UK Gov, Simon Coveney says: "Northern Ireland is too fragile and too important to be used as a pawn." The Taoiseach will be speaking with @BorisJohnson later today and says the latest moves are "not an acceptable way to conduct negotiations" #iestaff— Elaine Loughlin (@Elaine_Loughlin) September 9, 2020
Boris Johnson's government has confirmed it is willing to break international law on certain parts of the Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the development is "gravely concerning" and he will speak with Mr Johnson this afternoon to raise concerns.
Mr Martin said "there was no heads up" from the UK Government on their Brexit proposals which would break international laws.
The Taoiseach says "there was no heads up" from the UK Gov on their proposals to override the withdrawal agreement #iestaff— Elaine Loughlin (@Elaine_Loughlin) September 9, 2020
"Trust is fundamental to the conduct of any negotiations, we're extremely concerned about the unilateral nature of the British Government's action and decision, which has the capacity to undermine progress in the negotiations.
"It is important to say that meaningful negotiations can only proceed on the basis of mutual trust," Mr Martin said.
The UK Government will introduce the Internal Market Bill today which aims to ensure goods from Northern Ireland continue to have unfettered access to the UK market while making clear EU state aid rules – which will continue to apply in Northern Ireland – will not apply in the rest of the UK.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted in the House of Commons on Tuesday that new Brexit-related legislation would break international law.
Reacting, Mr Martin said: "My first reaction when I saw Brandon Lewis' comments yesterday was essentially that this is a new departure.
Asked about the comments made by Brandon Lewis, the Taoiseach says: "This is a new departure" and raises serious questions around Brexit negotiations #iestaff— Elaine Loughlin (@Elaine_Loughlin) September 9, 2020
"We haven't quite witnessed a member of any government go to a parliament and say we are going to break international law, so it's a new departure."
Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Coveney said there had been "no reach-out or back-channel discussions" ahead of the announcement and Governments around Europe learned of the development through the media.
"What's also different about this week is that normally if the British government or indeed if the EU are about to take an important decision or change the direction there would be heads up.
With the Brexit deadline looming, the Government this morning published an updated action plan.
Launching the plan, the Taoiseach said Brexit has "no positive outcome" and businesses must make sure they are now fully prepared.
Launching an updated Brexit plan to help businesses, Taoiseach @MichealMartinTD says “Brexit has no positive outcome”. He says meaningful negations can only go ahead on the basis of mutual trust #iestaff pic.twitter.com/p7cpqbIWGo— Elaine Loughlin (@Elaine_Loughlin) September 9, 2020
“No matter what the outcome of the negotiations, anybody importing or exporting goods to or from Great Britain needs to prepare to deal with customs and regulatory checks," he said.
Mr Coveney said a "big national effort" is needed in the next three months to prepare for Brexit and warned: "Brexit is for real this time for businesses and for traders. This time there is no extra time."
Foreign Affairs Minister @simoncoveney says a "big national effort" is needed in the next three months to prepare for Brexit as he says "Brexit is for real this time for businesses and for traders." He adds: "This time there is no extra time." #iestaff— Elaine Loughlin (@Elaine_Loughlin) September 9, 2020
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar announced a €9,000 grant for each worker hired or redeployed to enable businesses to build their capacity to manage Brexit customs changes.