There can be ‘no blinking whatsoever’ by EU negotiators when it comes to the Brexit endgame, a Dundalk TD has said, as new figures from the Revenue show that most export businesses in Louth have a customs number.
Sinn Féin’s Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú raised a number of Brexit-related issues in Leinster House recently. During a debate on Pre-European Council statements, he said: ‘We are being told this is coming down to governance, a level playing field and fishing rights. It looks like this is a game being played by a British Government seeking fishing rights on which it does not seem to have the capacity to follow through.
‘Whether we are talking about the withdrawal agreement or the possibility of a free trade agreement, this is about mitigating the worst aspects of Brexit. Some of that will be within our control but not all of it will be.
‘There is a belief that this British Government is literally playing games because approximately 45% of exports from Britain go to the European Union. It requires a deal as much as anybody else.
‘I could not say I could ever trust the British Government, and one could not trust this British Government in particular. We must ensure we can maintain the level of European solidarity and that there is no blinking whatsoever’.
He made the comments against the backdrop of the ‘renewed threat’ of the Internal Markets Bill and the possible introduction of a Finance Bill by the British Government, that could, Deputy Ó Murchú said, ‘undermine the Irish Protocol’.
Hauliers, he said, are also facing the vista of Dublin Port being clogged with freight traffic and lorries having to ‘drive around’ until there is space.
Deputy Ó Murchú also raised the issue of how the French port of Calais has not allowed for an exemption for Irish goods exported through the land bridge in Britain.
Tanáiste Leo Varadkar said he would meet the French minister for European Affairs at the weekend to discuss this and other issues.
Meanwhile, Minister Paschal Donohoe has revealed, following a parliamentary question from Deputy Ó Murchú that, according to Revenue, ‘1,374 businesses in Co. Louth are currently registered for customs and therefore have an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number’.
Revenue has also said that ‘94% of imports from and 99% of exports to the UK in 2019 undertaken by businesses in Co. Louth were undertaken by businesses that have an EORI number’.
In addition, the minister said that Revenue initially determined that it required 600 additional staff.
In the period between September 2018 and October 2019, Revenue assigned over 580 staff to Brexit related roles. Revenue recently re-assessed its requirements and determined that it will require approximately 300 staff in addition to the 600 already approved.
Revenue is currently recruiting and training these staff and that as an integrated tax and customs administration, it will deploy resources to quickly confront any risks as they emerge.