Seanad debates

Thursday, 11 July 2019

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

10:30 am

Photo of Frank FeighanFrank Feighan (Fine Gael)

I also wish to be associated with the messages of condolence to the Whelan family. I met Noel Whelan on numerous occasions. He certainly had his finger on the political pulse. He was very astute and was a great commentator. At election time, we really looked forward to his interpretation of what exactly was going to happen. We give our sympathies to his family and also to the family of Brendan Grace.

Senator Leyden outlined negotiations in terms of Ireland and the UK. The negotiations are not between Ireland and the UK. We are the EU. Ireland is part of the 27 countries. The EU is not negotiating on our behalf; we are part of it and it has showed great solidarity with us.

A backstop with a time limit is not a backstop. People talk about technological solutions but there is nowhere in the world where those solutions have proved successful. Six weeks ago our committee for the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly went to Crossmaglen PSNI station looking at illicit trading across the Border. We stopped in Newry and were transferred by eight armoured cars for the 16 miles to Crossmaglen as is normal for bringing PSNI men to Crossmaglen. There were two cameras at the PSNI station. All the other cameras in south Armagh for checking vehicle registration plates have been cut down. This is not a normal area. The British Government and the diplomats know that it is not Hereford or Watford. This is south Armagh in Northern Ireland. We saw it ourselves when we were going in the gate. The gate was rammed the night before. We asked them what they do and they said they do nothing. Anybody who thinks there can be a border on the island of Ireland is missing the fact that we are in a highly dangerous situation. We are part of the EU 27 and they have been loyal to us and have showed us massive solidarity.

There is a problem and it is the Conservative Party. This is about uniting the Conservative Party and it is not about anything else. As President Higgins said, I hope they get over their little tantrum in the next while, but we must look at what is happening. The diplomat, Kim Darroch, had to step down because he criticised Donald Trump. That is his job. That is what diplomats do. They look at what happens in different countries and do a report. This is a sad day for democracy and for relations between the UK and the United States. That is why we have to ensure that we stick with the European Union. It has not let us down.

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