Written answers

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Cormac Devlin (Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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93. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on whether Brexit will have a positive impact on any policy area or sector under the remit of his Department; and if the details of same will be provided. [37173/20]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Ireland regrets the UK’s decision to leave the EU, although we respect it.

From 1 January 2021, many aspects of our relationship with our nearest neighbour will change fundamentally as we will no longer share EU membership.  However, the Government remains committed to protecting and strengthening the Ireland-UK relationship following the end of the transition period.  Strong and vibrant connections are vital with our closest neighbour and trading partner.  Both Ireland and the UK remain co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement and are committed to the ongoing maintenance of the Common Travel Area and its associated rights and privileges. 

The Taoiseach and Prime Minister Johnson at their meeting in Belfast on 13 August, have already discussed the importance of nurturing and developing the bilateral relationship in a structured way in the context where the UK has left the EU.

The Brexit transition period will end in 43 days. Whatever the outcome of the ongoing future partnership negotiations, this will bring significant and lasting change in the relationship between the EU and UK from 1 January, 2021.

In 2015, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed relating to defence cooperation between Ireland and UK. This MoU provides a framework for developing and furthering bilateral co-operation and relations between the two states in the area of security and defence capacity, building on existing cooperation and seeking to identify new areas of cooperation with mutual benefits. It is a voluntary, non-binding arrangement and does not impact on Ireland's traditional policy of military neutrality.

Areas covered by the MoU include exercises, training activities, exchange of information, knowledge and experience, shared threat analysis,  staff to staff talks both civil and military and joint operations and capacity building in support of international peace and security.   

It is important that we maintain and develop the positive progress that has taken place so far. Any bilateral Ireland/UK cooperation on areas of mutual interest and concern in the defence and armed forces domain will remain in place post-Brexit and the MoU will continue to facilitate cooperation between Ireland and the UK in the agreed areas into the future.

Supplementary written arrangements in the form of MOUs, Technical Arrangements etc. may be concluded between Ireland and the UK for the purpose of implementing this cooperation. To this end, a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the sharing of and protection of Defence classified information was concluded between Ireland and the UK in 2019.

The Department of Defence has not identified any areas where cooperation or coordination will be enhanced by Brexit.

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