Government accused of suppressing Brexit document as FF and FG trade barbs on Twitter
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Fianna Fail spokesperson on Brexit Stephen Donnelly.
ACCUSATIONS THAT THE government suppressed a Brexit document by the Revenue Commissioners resulted in a war of words breaking out between Fine Gael and Fianna FÃ¡il on Twitter today.
The leaked report, which RTÃ has seen, finds an open customs border would be impossible after Brexit.
The report, which remains unpublished, was drafted by a small unit set up within Revenue a year before the Brexit referendum.
TheJournal.ie reported in June last year, prior to the British referendum, that Revenue was exploring the impacts on Irelandâs customs arrangements with the UK post-Brexit.
Following the referendum re sult, the team worked to find possible technological solutions to the border problem.
This was referred to by the former Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who outlined that Revenue was investigating how border crossings could be âfrictionlessâ. The agency, he said, was looking at how some other countries, such as Norway, controlled border crossings.
However, itâs reported that work stopped abruptly when the government told Revenue to halt their investigations for fear that by carrying out such due diligence Ireland was doing the work for the British.
Fianna FÃ¡il Brexit spokesperson Stephen Donnelly.
Today, Fianna FÃ¡il Spokesperson on Brexit Stephen Donnelly said the leaked report had shown that there are elements within the government more interested in playing party politics than in working on a cross-party basis to prepare Ireland for B rexit.
âThe leaking of this report today shows that there are some within government who are unwilling to share critical pieces of analyses with the Oireachtas at a time when the risks to our countryâs future economic prosperity have never been so grave.
âMy colleagues and I have consistently requested, from a variety of government departments, to see reports of this nature, and we have been stonewalled.â
Speaking on RTÃâs Morning Ireland, Donnelly said the report is âthe most important partâ of analysis by the State on Brexit.
âIt turns out that the government has been suppressing what I believe is the most important part of analysis by the State that weâve seen. And I think it is being very cavalier with the futures of the men and women who work in those 91,000 companies [who trade with the UK].
âThe government needs to publish this report immediately,â said Donnelly. Labour leader Brendan Howlin and Sinn FÃ©inâs David C ullinane have also called for the publication of the report.
Donnellyâs radio appearance resulted in the Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney hitting back at Donnelly on Twitter, accusing him of trying to make the Brexit negotiations âparty politicalâ.
Replying to the minister, Donnelly said the government had been caught âred-handedâ suppressing essential analysis. He said this was particularly disappointing due to the government calling on all parties to âwork openly with themâ.
He concluded his tweet: âYouâve some nerve.â
Interestingly in the same thread, the former spokesperson and press secretary for Tony Blair Alastair Campbell asked Coveney to follow him so he could send him a direct message. What he had to say to the minister is unknown.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also weighed in on the issue today, reiterating his point that a customs border with the North would be a barrier to trade and peace.
Criticising Varadk arâs decision to stop the work of the Revenue Commissioners, Donnelly said:
âItâs clear, on the basis of this report, that the Taoiseachâs political decision upon assuming office to instruct the Revenue Commissioners to desist from any customsâ contingency planning in the event of a hard Brexit was short-sighted and potentially highly detrimental to Irish interests, both North and South.â
Fine Gael senator Neale Richmond called Donnellyâs âfaux outrageâ on the issue an attempt âto make something moreâ of the report, adding that his behaviour is âcounterproductive and unwiseâ.