Louth’s Declan Breathnach warns Guy Verhofstadt against hard Brexit
Louth Fianna Fail TD, Declan Breathnach, addressed Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt during a special meeting in the Dáil Chamber earlier today, and impressed upon him the unique situation Ireland is in with regards to Brexit.
‘As Vice Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement I alerted him to some key findings of the Report from our Committee’, said Deputy Breathnach.
‘I pointed out to him that the all-Ireland economy must not be affected or allowed to regress. A tailored solution taking into account the very unique circumstances that Ireland is in must be found.
‘I stressed the importance that INTERREG and PEACE programme funding (which provided 3.5 billion) to our economy over the last 20 years must continue beyond 2020.
‘These funds have been really important in embedding peace and healing in our border communities’, said Deputy Breathnach.
'I also made him aware that our Committee has called on the Government and the EU to undertake a detailed study of the potential implications of Brexit for reconciliation.
'I pointed out the psychological impact identified by the Committee that will be caused by Brexit which will further affect many families in the North and along the border corridor.
'Whether you were a victim a combatant or an innocent by-stander the emotional scars of murder death and explosions remain deep rooted and continue to need healing.”
'The full potential of the Good Friday Agreement has yet to be realised as the current impasse in Northern Ireland bears testament to.
'However, while I wish our energies over the past year had been focused on taking forward the hugely important work concerning the continued implementation of the Agreement, I regret that that has not been the case.
'Brexit has been the overriding focus of the Committee for much of the past year. This is a reflection of how huge an impact Brexit will have on Ireland generally but specifically on the many important gains made as a result of the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process on this island,' he said.
Deputy Breathnach concluded:
'Lastly, I pointed out that both he and Mr. Barnier have spoken about the unique situation that Ireland is in and that he acknowledged that a hard border would be disastrous.
'I asked Mr. Verhofstadt to outline what he feels would be the solution to this.
'Politics is about the art of the possible and we owe it to our children and our children’s children to live in peace prosperity and harmony on this island.'