“Our trade links are essential to protect, certainly as much, if not more so, in agriculture than any other sector.”
“I represent a farming constituency and I am also a farmer. I expect that there will be a precipitous drop in the prices of cattle and milk in a few weeks’ time if a trade deal is not done.”
That is the view of Independent TD, Michael McNamara, who voiced his concerns during a Dáil debate on Brexit last week.
He said he hopes that there will be a deal, which is “in the interests of all our people on these islands and indeed those in the wider EU”.
‘A failure of British politics’
“Although I fundamentally disagree with the Vote Leave side, I agree with the right to campaign to leave the EU. I agree with the right of people in Ireland to campaign to leave the EU, although I will be campaigning on the other side when that happens.”
“We are very keen to say that just because we are leaving the EU does not mean that we are leaving Europe. We cannot return to any glorious period in the past, whether it is Ireland or the UK, and hope that the world has not moved on, because it has.”
“I am sure the Minister of State will have his own backbenchers calling on the Government for compensation, but nothing can compensate for being able to trade.”
He said, “many people say that Brexit has been a failure of British politics and perhaps it has been”.
“However, it also marks a profound failure on the part of the European Union itself insofar as people feel marginalised from its decision-making process and that the decisions made do not represent their interests.”
“That strand of disaffection is evident in every country in the union, including our own, and it is very important that we address it.”
Benefited ‘significantly’ from union membership
He said there is an elite in every country in the EU whose members have benefited “significantly” from Union membership.
“I must be honest and say that I have benefited enormously from living in a country that is part of the EU. Having an EU passport is of much more value than having an Irish passport because EU membership makes it more than an Irish passport.”
“EU citizenship does not replace national citizenship but sits on top of it. It is an add-on but one that is sometimes neglected.
“I was not a Member of the last Dáil but debate therein was apparently dominated by the issue of Brexit, how important membership of the EU is and how important our trade relationship is with, and as part of, the Union, as well as with Britain.”
“However, since the formation of this Dáil, I have heard almost nothing about any of that. I appreciate that the Minister of State came back from the European Council meeting and addressed us on it, for which I am thankful.”
“In the general political discourse in Ireland, however, I have heard very little about the EU and the four freedoms that are fundamental to it.”
“Other countries have dealt with the undoubted risks and dangers that arise out of the Covid crisis. It is for each member state to protect its population and safeguard public health.”
“Equally, however, it is for each member state to do so in a way that protects the four freedoms. I have not seen that issue feature in the discourse.”
“The traffic light system has been introduced, very late in the day, but there was no discussion of the fundamental freedoms when travel was, in effect, banned during some of the Covid period.”
“There is no acknowledgement in the debate we are having now that there are thousands of families living in Dublin and throughout Ireland who are not originally from this country and do not have an Irish passport but who are availing of free movement.”
He said this needs to come more to the fore in discussions. “We can talk about issues in the abstract but there are concrete realities we must address and the most concrete is the fact that the four freedoms need to be protected.”
He urged the Government to address that issue when we move beyond this phase, whether or not a trade deal between the EU and the UK is successfully negotiated.