Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 5 May 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs
EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Engagement with Mr. Barry Andrews, MEP
If the Chairman can hear me okay, I confirm that I am on the premises. I apologise for the fact that I was unavoidably absent for some of the meeting. I could not let the occasion go by without wishing Mr. Andrews well. He is a good colleague of the Law Library from yesteryear. Deputy Richmond was very generous in referring to one of his speeches and, in that same good spirit, I should mention that Mr. Andrews was very appropriate in his use of the term some months of "gunboat diplomacy". At a sensitive time, it ratcheted up things. As an MEP for Ireland, he is a statesman and is very competent in his work at the European Parliament.
I have one question if it has not been covered. I am a member of the French-Irish parliamentary group, which is very informal. I was imbued by the ambassador that there are new opportunities. Does Mr. Andrews there are new opportunities evident between Ireland and France, which is our new closest neighbour in the EU? Is he aware of formal or informal moves in this regard? Deputy Harkin asked if there is any evidence of bridge-building with our closest colleagues in the UK but is Mr. Andrews aware of us seeking to seize an opportunity with France? There are major cultural ties and the Rosslare traffic is increasing. Does he foresee this as a major opportunity or is it being overhyped by some people?