Brexit 'backstop' must be an absolute and permanent guarantee - Mary Lou McDonald TD
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has said the Brexit ‘backstop’ cannot be time bound or temporary and that it cannot "be couched in ifs, buts or conditions; but must be an absolute and permanent guarantee".
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, Teachta McDonald said:
“Last December when the joint report of the EU and British government negotiating teams was published the Taoiseach hailed it as a panacea for all of Brexit's ills.
"He said at the time that it 'achieved what we sought to achieve' in avoiding a hard border. He said it was not only 'rock solid' but 'cast iron', and he claimed that it was 'politically bulletproof'.
“His language was such that very many people took him at his word, but we, in Sinn Féin, urged caution. We urged the Taoiseach not to oversell the achievement.
"Our caution was well placed because shortly after the December announcement, the British government rowed back and it has been rowing back on its commitments ever since.
“The bottom lines needed to mitigate the effects of Brexit are well known: no hardening of the Border on the island, no undermining of the Good Friday Agreement and no loss of citizens' rights.
“The so-called backstop arrangement was supposed to be our guarantee and insurance policy that there will be no hard border on the island and the interests of our citizens will be protected, and those protections remain vital.
“The consequences of Brexit are real. They are a threat to the social and political fabric of our island and our economy, north and south. They are real, lasting and enduring threats. Brexit is for keeps.
“To combat those real and enduring consequences, we need a solution to match - one that is not time bound or temporary, not couched in ifs, buts or conditions, but is an absolute and permanent guarantee. There cannot be any fudging on that.
“A temporary or transitory backstop is not a backstop at all. Temporary protections mean no protection. Answers for our country need to be real and we need a unique, bespoke solution for our island.
“Yesterday when the Taoiseach said he was willing to consider proposals for a review clause for the backstop, he shifted position.
“It is not a matter of nuance, but a substantial and reckless change in position by the government at this most sensitive time in the negotiations.
"The Taoiseach's announcement yesterday was a cock-up, plain and simple, and I would ask him to clarify his position and invite him to set aside any notion or proposal of a review clause in what is to be our insurance policy in the face of Brexit.”