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Speech by Minister Coveney at launch of Brexit Readiness Action Plan

Taoiseach, Tanaiste, Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Look you’ve heard a lot this morning already and I have a very simple message to businesses and the wider country.

This time Brexit is for real.

There is no extra time, there is no more transition, the UK left the EU in January BUT the implications of that are just about to materialise.

The preparations are in pretty good shape, we’ve been working on them across government for years. But we need a big national effort in the final 3 and a half months to make sure no one is left behind.

For Traders the key words from this document are “To, From and Through”

If you sell “to” the UK, if you buy “from” the UK or if you move things “through” the UK the status quo will not apply from January 1st. Customs and SPS checks are going to be part of trading. You need to make sure your business is ready for that. The supports from government to help you get there are available and this document once again lays them all out. Revenue will be writing to tens of thousands of businesses tomorrow to make the point one more time. Do not ignore that letter.

On the political side we will continue to do everything to support Michel Barnier’s efforts to get a new trade deal in place.

This must be a deal that is fair to both sides and it must be consistent with agreements already made and the international legal obligations that flow from them.

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The British/Irish relationship is much bigger than Brexit and the peace it fostered on these islands should be paramount to all of us.

In the weeks ahead I will be spending time in London with British counterparts to ensure our shared interests are being advanced.

I’d also like to say a word on Northern Ireland.

When I was standing in the freezing cold on that bitter January night 8 long months ago I had no idea that the deal we had just struck to get Stormont up and running again would be so important in the face of a global pandemic that was about to hit.

Imagine the alternative - If Northern Ireland had not had its own government made up of the 5 major parties making the big decisions on Covid.

Instead Northern Ireland’s political leaders have shown ability and responsibility in navigating all communities through the pandemic.

I would caution anyone who is thinking about playing politics with Northern Ireland on Brexit again.

Northern Ireland is too fragile and too important to be used as a pawn in the broader Brexit negotiation. 

Now is not the time to go reignite disagreements that have been settled.

Now is the time to find a way to do a trade deal that is good for the UK and good for the EU 

Finally,

Today is a call to action to all businesses in Ireland.

We have less than 4-months to finish our preparations and be ready.

This time Brexit is for real.

 

END