Thursday, 11 July 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I am pretty good at predicting that, but I could be surprised. I do not feel that Ireland has been well served by the negotiators from the European Union. I believe that we have been served appallingly in this whole effort. The backstop will not be relevant if there is no agreement, so let us bear that in mind.There are possible alternatives but have they been pursued? Have they pursued the possibility of a special economic zone between the United Kingdom and Ireland in terms of the Anglo-Irish trade agreement of the 1960s, which was taken over by the free trade agreement of the European Union? There are alternatives. The Republic of Ireland has only 1% of the population of Europe. We should have special consideration because of our unique historical and personal links with the United Kingdom. It is time to review the situation and see if there is any possibility that we will have a stronger relationship through a joint UK and Irish special economic zone within the European Union. It is possible. There are zones within the European Union. I do not believe it was pursued by the Government or that it has looked at alternatives. The Government has been too influenced by the overall negotiators in Brussels.
The Government should review the situation over the summer and see if it can come up with some other choice. If the UK leaves without an agreement, it will be importing cheap beef from Argentina and Brazil without any restrictions whatsoever. That will be an opportunity for those who will bring the meat through Northern Ireland and into the Republic, damaging the most important farming industry in this country. I appreciate the Leas-Chathaoirleach's leniency this morning. I make this appeal sincerely to the Government. It must review and think again.