Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Post-European Council: Statements
Those spreading the disinformation have alleged that the population of Ireland will rise by 1 million by a certain date, based on growth patterns and birth rates and so on, and that that growth is linked to the Marrakesh agreement. My understanding is that the agreement is non-binding and does not have any implications in terms of the number of migrants coming to Ireland. That should be made clear.
Many Members, including Deputy Wallace, touched on the issue of preparation for Brexit. I acknowledge that the Minister of State confirmed an announcement will be made tomorrow. Deputy Wallace raised concerns in regard to Rosslare Europort. Members of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement recently visited Derry and met representatives of the North West Strategic Growth Partnership who impressed upon us the significance of the A5 in terms of getting goods to market. Under the Good Friday Agreement, the importance of fast-tracking that proposal was agreed. It would be logical to develop Derry port at Lisahally, which straddles the Border, to open the area further to tourism. We met representatives of the port authority who promoted the development of a deep sea port there. That would involve minimal investment.
We are told that there is significant goodwill towards Ireland, the peace process and the ongoing development of links between North and South. Those projects are examples of issues that could and should be progressed but are not being mentioned anywhere. The national development plan does not contain such projects. It stops at the Border. There is no sense of the joined-up thinking on an all-Ireland basis which is needed to prepare for the situation post Brexit. The Government needs to consider an all-Ireland outreach as part of its planning.
Reference was made to a hard crash. What will be the impact on infrastructure, increased capacity at our ports, the roll-out of the broadband plan, support for our exporters and SMEs, and the Passport Office?
I expect considerable growth in these areas after Brexit. The expected increase in paperwork, in the order of 800%, was touched on. How will it be dealt with? These are all major concerns. I am aware that the Government is holding meetings throughout the country. Citizens are attending them and expecting answers, but in many cases they are going away frustrated with the answers. I hope many of the answers being sought will emerge tomorrow. When we come back to the House to discuss them, almost one month will have elapsed. We do not have weeks or months to spare in regard to what is coming down the tracks owing to Brexit. Perhaps the Minister of State might expand on what we could do to prevent the hard Border that no one wants to see.