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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 20 March, 2019
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Coveney: 'What's the new mega Bill? In simple language, it’s Irish Brexit law'

The Tánaiste says Ireland will be as ready as we can be for the damage a disorderly Brexit will cause.

Simon Coveney Tánaiste

IT’S BEING DESCRIBED as an omnibus bill, a mega bill and a landmark bill.

Yesterday I published the legislation the government will bring through the Oireachtas over the next three-weeks to prepare us for a hard Brexit.

In simple language, it’s the Irish Brexit law.

It contains the things we will need to do in legislation to protect our citizens, businesses and country if a no deal Brexit comes to pass at the end of March.

Brexit is bad news, a hard Brexit is really bad news.

We have things we can do without new laws like get our ports, airports and supply chains ready with the hundreds of millions of euro in supports the government has already made available to agribusiness and small business.

We have things the EU is doing like making sure the planes keep flying, the trucks keep driving across the UK and security and police cooperation remains really strong. Ireland will be an EU member after Brexit and that brings important stability and support too.

However we also have laws we need to change and that’s what this work in the Oireachtas will be all about.

The Brexit bill is the result of a lot of really hard work from our teams across government. They have toiled away in nine government departments to identify what will need a legal fix in a disorderly Brexit. The Taoiseach’s Department, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Attorney General’s Office have overseen the preparations.

The bill is designed to keep things the same, because Brexit threatens many things that have worked for decades on the island of Ireland.

Let me give you five examples of what this bill does and why we need such a big piece of work to safeguard Irish citizens.

1) Healthcare: The bill gives a legal basis for us to fly transplant patients to the UK for surgery, and for cataract operations for people living in the South to be done in Belfast.

2) VAT: In law the U.K. will become a 3rd country overnight and for Irish businesses they would need to pay their VAT on the spot for every deal done in the U.K. This would add to their upfront costs and bury them in admin and paperwork so we’re changing the law to allow them do what they do today – Add it all up and pay their VAT once every two months.

3) Welfare: This is a big one. It affects over a hundred thousand people in Ireland.  The Irish and the British have been living together and working together for years. This bit of the bill ensures pensions and welfare payments continue uninterrupted on March 30th no matter what.

4) Students: They need their grants to keep going. This law ensures Irish students in the U.K. and British students here will keep their payments.

5) Business: This bill gives more power to Enterprise Ireland so they can help Irish companies to export to more countries around the world.  This works. Ten years ago our exports to China was €100 million, now it’s close to €1 billion. 

There’s loads more in the bill and it will be debated heavily in the Oireachtas over the next couple of weeks.

As I said yesterday I hope this work is made redundant and the Irish Brexit bill, and all the hard work that went into it, sits on the shelf in my office.

The EU and the UK are working to give reassurances to Westminster that the backstop would be temporary if it was used. No one wants to trap the UK in the EU, but Brexit is their policy and they have responsibilities to Northern Ireland and Ireland. Westminster is the only place that can take no deal off the table.

If they don’t, we’ll be as ready as we can be for the damage a disorderly Brexit will cause.

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About the author:

Simon Coveney  / Tánaiste

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