Northern Ireland news

Fianna Fáil says Dublin government is failing to prepare for Brexit

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath

FIANNA Fáil has accused the Irish government of failing to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Finance spokesman Michael McGrath said only 200 of the extra 600 customs officials needed will be in post by the time the UK leaves the European Union on March 29.

He said the Revenue Commissioners should be invited before the Oireachtas Finance Committee to discuss their Brexit preparations.

Mr McGrath added that if the UK crashes out of the EU without a formal withdrawal agreement the Revenue will be "hopelessly resourced to deal with the consequences".

"Given that Article 50 was invoked by the UK in March 2017, the government has had two years' notice of the March 2019 date and has clearly failed to prepare adequately," he said.

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"A transition period was always going to be the best possible outcome and yet the government has not provided the resources necessary to deal with this in a timely manner."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in July his government was planning to hire around 1,000 customs and veterinary inspectors at the Republic's ports and airports.

"In the unlikely event of a no-deal Brexit next March, of course it will not be possible to have 1,000 people in place for then but we will make contingency arrangements in the event that might arise," he said.

However, the Fine Gael leader insisted last month that, despite reports to the contrary, his government had told the Revenue "not to prepare for customs posts on the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland because that’s something we’re not contemplating".

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