Irish government steps up 'no deal' preparations for physical infrastructure at ports and airports

 The Irish government is stepping up preparations for physical infrastructure at ports and airports in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit
Michael McHugh, Press Association

THE Irish government is stepping up preparations for physical infrastructure at ports and airports after Brexit, Leo Varadkar has said.

Ministers held detailed discussions in Dublin today surrounding the hiring of customs officers and veterinary inspectors as well as the upgrading of IT systems.

The Republic has held a series of workshops for businesses aimed at getting Ireland Brexit-ready and earmarked money in next year's budget.

The taoiseach updated the Dail on negotiations and said: "I cannot say at the moment that decisive progress has been made, but that is something that will play out over the next couple of days in Brussels, and a decision will be made whether or not to have a November summit when we can determine whether that is necessary - we won't be having a summit for the sake of it."

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European leaders head to Brussels for the European Council tomorrow in what Sinn Féin is branding a "crunch" summit, with no agreement on the Irish border backstop.

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Irish Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has said a "very dangerous" suggestion is being made in Europe that the backstop issue should be postponed or deferred.

The Taoiseach has not ruled out Britain crashing out of the EU without an agreement next March.

He said: "We are stepping up our preparations for that scenario and we had a detailed discussion at cabinet today on Brexit and on those discussions and that does include the hiring of customs officials, veterinary inspectors.

"It includes preparing legislation, it includes IT systems and includes preparations to install physical infrastructure at our ports and airports, but not along the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said "no one knows for sure" when a Brexit agreement can be reached

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