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North remaining in Customs Union and Single Market ‘the only way to avoid hard border’ – McDonald

27 February, 2018 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD


Speaking during Leaders’ Questions today, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the only way to avoid a hard Brexit border on the island is for the North to remain in the Customs Union and the Single Market.

Teachta McDonald said;

“Tomorrow, we will see the text giving legal affect to the political agreement reached between the European Union and the British government in December.

“At the time of its publication, we in Sinn Féin said this political agreement laid out some progress in terms of broad principles but that it was littered with alarming contradictions which fundamentally undermined it.

“In converting December’s political agreement into a legally binding withdrawal text, it is absolutely crucial that these contradictions are resolved. This is the only way to bring clarity and certainty for our people, our all-island economy, and our agreements.

“This means that the legal text must explicitly state that there will be no Brexit Border on the island of Ireland. The only way to guarantee this is for the North to remain with the Customs Union and the Single Market.

“The text must ensure the protection of the Good Friday agreement is protected in all its parts and it must make clear that there will be no loss of rights for citizens.

“I know that An Tánaiste Simon Coveney met with Michel Barnier in Brussels yesterday. We are told that Minister Coveney has seen the draft legal text. He has been quoted in the media today as saying that the Irish Government and the EU team are ‘of one mind’ on the draft text of the withdrawal agreement.

“You stated previously that we ‘cannot afford a leap into the dark’ in these negotiations. Supporting a legal withdrawal agreement that doesn’t resolve the contradictions I have outlined would constitute such a leap.

“Can you say with certainty the document defends Ireland interests in the necessary ways? Can you confirm that contradictions in December’s political agreement have been resolved in the draft legal text?” 

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