Taoiseach: No such thing as 'good Brexit' for Ireland but deal is good and balanced

Taoiseach: No such thing as 'good Brexit' for Ireland but deal is good and balanced

The Taoiseach said the Government will work to ensure that the sector and the coastal communities that depend on it are supported through the period ahead.

The Taoiseach has described the Brexit deal as a "good compromise and a balanced outcome".

Micheál Martin has said he still regrets the decision of the UK to leave the EU but said both countries will work together to ensure that the relationship remains deep and strong.

"There is no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’ for Ireland. But we have worked hard to minimise the negative consequences," said Mr Martin.

"I believe the agreement reached today is the least bad version of Brexit possible, given current circumstances.

"I know that, more than others, our fishing communities will be disappointed with the outcome.

"But compared with the prospect of a no deal, which would have seen them completely excluded from British waters, the negotiators have worked hard to minimise the damage."

The Taoiseach said the Government will work to ensure that the sector and the coastal communities that depend on it are supported through the period ahead.

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said that while there will be relief that a trade deal has been agreed between Britain and the EU and that the Irish Protocol is in place, we should be" under no illusions there is no good Brexit for Ireland, north or south".

She added that now is the time to start planning for the future post-Brexit.

"Four and a half years ago the north of Ireland voted to remain, but despite the wishes of the people it now finds itself outside of the European Union as a result of a Tory-inspired Brexit," Ms McDonald said.

Mr Martin said that the issue of Northern Ireland had posed a "particular challenge" throughout the talks but said the protocol would avoid a return of a hard border on the island.

"It has been a priority for this and for previous Governments to protect the achievements of the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

"That is why implementation of the Protocol on Northern Ireland is so important.

"I know that not everyone is happy with the Protocol, but I believe it is a good outcome for the people of Northern Ireland," he said.

Mr Martin also thanked the negotiating teams who have been involved in protracted talks to get a Brexit deal over the line.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also thanked "our friends in Europe and our spectacular civil servants in Dublin and Brussels" for four years of work and diplomacy saying we have "the best deal possible".

He said today is a sad but momentous day.

Mr Varadkar said the agreement brings clarity and certainty for both businesses and citizens.

“The deal is particularly welcome for businesses in Ireland and is a reprieve from the unrelenting challenges they have faced in dealing with Covid-19.

"It leaves us in a better place in the EU and the UK, to plan our recovery. It will come as a relief to our farmers, industry and exporters. There will be no tariffs and no quotas.

"For aviation and energy, the new arrangement is close to the status quo, and for transport and haulage there are special arrangements around cabotage.

"The level playing field is secured. The UK will have to match EU standards to maintain full access to the EU market.

Hopefully the deal can be ratified by the European Parliament by New Year, but Brexit will never be ‘done’.

"There will need to be future agreements and disputes that arise that will have to be resolved."

There will be significant change despite the Free Trade Agreement which avoids the harm that would arise from WTO trade terms, Mr Varadkar warned.

The Minister for Enterprise reminded businesses of the Brexit supports that are available to them including planning vouchers, the EI Ready for Customs Grant of up to €9,000, as well as financial supports for adapting and restructuring business models and grants for research into new markets.

The Tánaiste, together with Minister Robert Troy and Minister Damien English will work with stakeholders to ensure that the terms of the Agreement are widely understood, and that exporters, importers and consumers continue to adjust to our new EU-UK and IE-UK relationships.

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