Independent TD Denis Naughten has said that any hard border would have a “very serious impact” on the economy in this region.
‘The reality is, from an economic point of view, a hard border will have a very serious impact. Secondly, we have seen in Derry last weekend why it’s important from a political point of view that we don’t have a border on this island as well,” he said.
The former Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment said that while he is not privy to current discussions, he believes those involved are steadfast in their opposition to a hard border.
“Knowing the personalities that are involved and knowing the engagement that I was directly involved with at European level, I think the Government are determined to make sure that there will not be a hard border on this island.
“Remember that the backstop was one of the last things to be agreed, a lot of time and effort went into the drafting of the backstop part of that agreement. I don’t see the agreement being obtained from the 27 member states to alter that”.
Deputy Naughten said the SME sector is most at risk in the event of a hard border.
“Also the food sector, farmers and agriculture, 50% of our beef goes into the British market”.
The Independent TD added: “If there is no agreement and there is a hard Brexit, I presume the European Union will put some sort of transition agreement in place to allow the Irish Government to ensure that there is a frictionless situation on the island of Ireland. But there is a lot of negotiation still to go between now and the end of March and it is everyone’s interest on these two islands as well as mainland Europe that there is an agreement put in place and I expect that will happen.
“This is a British problem. The British Government and the British public have created this problem. This is not one that should be solved on the backs of the economy of rural Ireland,” he concluded.