Simon Coveney made a visit to Fermoy Youth Centre on Monday night for a public meeting on Brexit and Ireland. The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs was invited by Pa O’Driscoll, the Fine Gael candidate for the next general election. Minister Coveney outlined the Brexit negotiation process to date, and then offered his views on the likely outcome next March when the UK leaves the European Union.
On a reassuring note Minister Coveney outlined that there are four main areas of agreement within the withdrawal treaty, of which three of these have been mostly settled. These are the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU; the financial settlement to be made when the UK leave the EU; and the transition arrangement for after the UK leave.
The fourth area, which will be the focus of intense negotiation over the next two months, is Ireland. Minister Coveney stated that the Irish government would not be weakening on the commitments that have been made by both the UK government and the EU. He did warn however that the next eight weeks is likely to see a level of brinksmanship that will not be easy.
While the outcome of the Brexit negotiations is far from known, Minister Coveney was of the opinion that a ‘no deal’ outcome was unlikely as no side wanted this position. He maintained that politicians on both sides of the negotiations were more likely to agree to push back the timeline rather than risk a ‘no deal’ outcome.
After his address to the meeting, a number of questions were asked, covering a broad range of issues including the impact on the beef industry; the effect on Irish students in the UK; the impact on the equine industry; the position of Northern Ireland; the impact on the insurance industry; and the role of the European Court of Justice during the transition period.
Pa O’Driscoll, who organised the meeting, said that “Minister Coveney gave an insightful and interesting account of the Brexit negotiations, and provided clarity on a number of areas. It was clear from those who attended the meeting that there is concern over how Brexit will impact on the country, our economy and our society. There is a consensus across all political persuasions that the Irish government needs to maintain a strong line with the UK government and our EU partners to prevent an outcome that is destructive to north-south trade and trade across the Irish Sea”.