Irish Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald’s sudden resignation, thwarting the snap election that had threatened to complicate Brexit talks, has not influenced Ireland demand for written guarantees of no hard Irish border, Brendan Howlin, the leader of the Irish Labour Party, told Sputnik on Tuesday.
LONDON (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, Irish Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald announced her resignation in the run up to a no-confidence motion in the Irish parliament over the long-running scandal about corruption in Ireland’s police force and allegations that senior officials ran a smear campaign against a police whistleblower during Fitzgerald’s service as the justice minister. The resignation allowed to prevent early election, which could have weakened Ireland’s stance in the upcoming Brexit summit.
“The current controversy and resignation today of the deputy prime minister has not altered Ireland’s position on Brexit,” Howlin said.
Howlin noted that the Labour Party continues to support the Irish government in demanding London to provide guarantees on the Irish border and trade relations post-Brexit ahead of the European Council meeting in December.
“The choice made by the British government to leave the customs union and single market has precipitated these [Irish border] problems… It is our view that solutions must be put forward to ensure that the Peace Process and what Prime Minister [Theresa] May described as a ‘frictionless and seamless border’ must be protected and retained,” Howlin said.
Dublin is expected to apply pressure on the United Kingdom in critical Brexit talks next month over assurances that their border with the northern six counties will remain open and tariff-free.
The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is one of the major issues on the agenda of the Brexit talks, as London’s pullout from 28-nation bloc might create difficulties for the free movement of goods and workers between Ireland and the Northern Irish counties of the United Kingdom. Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, has also said that Brussels wanted to preserve all the aspects of the UK-Irish agreements as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which states that no physical border should exist between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union officially kicked off on June 19, and are due to be completed by the end of March 2019.