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Closing statement by MoS Helen McEntee to Dail on Brexit

Brexit remains a key issue for the Government and for the House, even as we face the challenges of COVID-19.


In responding to Brexit, the Government has faced this tough task with welcome support from this House for the priority issues that have been at the centre of our strategy. 


The solidarity and support shown by all sides of the debate here at home has been an important part of addressing Brexit’s challenges.  


Though we may differ occasionally in matters of approach or emphasis, the priorities that we have pursued have been supported across both houses.


For our part, we will continue to work closely with parties, and other stakeholders, as this work goes forward.


At the same time, Ireland will face these changes with the mutual solidarity and support of our EU partners and with all of the strength that EU membership brings.


We remain fully committed to making sure that Ireland’s interests are protected and advanced in the negotiations on the EU-UK future relationship.


Equally, it is important that, over the Transition period, we see the full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol. This is key to protecting citizens and to ensuring peace and stability in Northern Ireland. It also plays a vital role in protecting the Single Market and Ireland’s place in it. The link between implementation and the Future Partnership negotiations is clear.


The Protocol must be operational at the end of the transition period. It is critical, therefore, that work moves forward to put practical operational arrangements in place to implement the Protocol. Clarity on this work is particularly important to give reassurance and certainty to people and businesses in Northern Ireland and across this island.


The Government continues to work closely with our EU partners, to ensure that our collective approach to these negotiations reflects our values and interests. We also continue to engage with key interlocutors on Brexit issues in the UK. 


Officials from across Government are  continuing their work to make sure that Ireland’s voice is heard at the Future Relationship negotiations, that work between the EU and UK to implement the Protocol is taken forward, and to ensure that domestically, Ireland is prepared for the end of the transition period.


Time is tight.


Ceann Comhairle,


With less than 7 months to the end of transition, our work on will undoubtedly intensify in the period ahead. We remain committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that Government, citizens and businesses are as ready as we can be for the end of transition.


On the positive side, we have in place the agreed Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol. 


The Government’s preparedness work will be closely aligned with progress on the negotiations and will evolve as elements of a deal become clearer.  As the talks progress, we will roll out communications programmes covering specific areas.  As before, departments and agencies will continue to engage with key stakeholders.


As the Tanaiste said earlier, whatever the outcome of the EU-UK negotiations, it will not be the status quo.  Brexit will bring significant changes.


It is important that Ireland is ready, and the Government is continuing its work to make sure that Ireland is prepared.


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