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Allowing customs checks on the island of Ireland amounts to 'political vandalism', says McDonald

The Sinn Féin leader claims border checks would breach the Good Friday Agreement.

McDonald speaking outside Sinn Féin's offices in Dublin.
McDonald speaking outside Sinn Féin's offices in Dublin.
Image: Sam Boal

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has called on the Taoiseach to refuse any checks on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

Speaking ahead of Sinn Féin’s Ard Comhairle in Dublin today she said the failure to stop checks being rolled out in Ireland amounts to “political vandalism” and would “represent a serious breach of the Good Friday Agreement”. 

Earlier this week during a speech at a British-Irish Chamber of Commerce event, Leo Varadkar said the risk of a no-deal Brexit is growing and that would mean “checks on goods and live animals,” including some near the border with Northern Ireland. 

McDonald, along with other opposition parties have urged the taoiseach to prevent this from happening, and called on the Government to be more open with its Brexit planning. 

“We’re very concerned to hear the taoiseach think out loud and to concede the point that there might be checks anywhere on the island of Ireland,” she said. 

“We all committed to a bottom line which was about protecting our economy, our society, our peace process, of never conceding any damage to the Good Friday Agreement.

“There can’t be any check anywhere on the island of Ireland. That’s entirely unacceptable. It would be an act of absolute political vandalism. And wherever these checks might be located, it would represent a breach, a serious breach of the Good Friday Agreement.”

‘Hard facts’

Speaking at Kennedy Summer School in New Ross yesterday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin made calls for greater transparency on how the Government was planning for a no-deal Brexit. 

“I think we all have the right to be concerned about briefings which emerged from this week’s cabinet meeting about the impact of a no-deal Brexit,” he said. 

“In March we came within days of a crash-out Brexit for which Ireland manifestly was not prepared – something the Taoiseach admitted during Dáil questions.

“Even today less than 10% of Brexit planning funds have been allocated and core customs training is only beginning.”

“I think it is long past time for the government to publish everything it has about no deal preparations. Let’s see the full details. Without the spin and with the full costs and administrative arrangements outlined,” Martin said. 

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