An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Irish Government will be “deeply engaged and vigilant” on all aspects of Brexit in the weeks ahead.
The Taoiseach was speaking in Burnfoot on Tuesday where he announced 90 new jobs at E&I Engineering.
Addressing the issue of Brexit and its impacts on the border, Taoiseach Varadkar said it presents “one of the greatest challenges since Independence.”
He pointed out how E&I Engineering is one of many companies which has a cross border workforce and said the government is working “tirelessly” to ensure it has the best deal possible for Ireland. He stressed how they are also working to ensure the protection of the Good Friday Agreement within Brexit.
The Taoiseach said their plans for Brexit included the preparation of the business and agricultural centres and ensuring the transport sector is “ready for whatever happens.”
He pointed out how there has been an assurance that the Common Travel Area will remain, allowing people to cross the border and allowing citizens to work, travel and study freely between Northern Ireland, Britain and Ireland.
He said: “We need to make sure that it is written into the Withdrawal Treaty, which we hope to conclude and agree in the next couple of weeks.”
Taoiseach Varadkar said any agreement must include the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and “everything it means: peace on our island and in Britain, power sharing in Northern Ireland and ever closer co-operation between north and south.”
He continued: “We must insist that the Withdrawal Treaty, once agreed, avoids the emergence of a hard border on our island and you can be assured all in government will be deeply engaged and vigilant on all aspects of Brexit in the weeks ahead.”
He added: “You can also be assured we will bring home the best deal possible and will stand our ground on all those key issues.”
Meanwhile, the managing director of E&I Engineering, Philip O’Doherty, said they intend to be ‘Brexit ready,’ no matter what the outcome.
He said: “Brexit will have implications for Ireland and in particular the border regions, more the North West. We have plans to mitigate any risk and are looking at ways we can protect our supply chain. We intend to be Brexit ready, whatever the outcome is, we will face it.”
The Taoiseach said that the withdrawal agreement must set out a legally binding assurance that there won’t be a hard border on the island of Ireland.