Irish Brexit protocol is ‘bullet proof’, Tánaiste tells Dáil

Leo Varadkar reiterates view that EU talks require a ‘compromise on both sides’

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil he was correct in his prediction that the Irish Protocol agreed in Brexit talks was "bullet proof".

He welcomed the UK’s agreement this week that the arrangement would be implemented.

The protocol ensures no hard border between north and south and that Ireland and Britain will remain in the Common Travel Area, allowing unrestricted travel between both countries for Irish and British passport holders.

Mr Varadkar was asked in the Dáil by Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty if he still held the view that concessions would be made to reach a Brexit agreement.


Referring to the protocol Mr Varadkar stated: “I said at the time it was bullet proof and it turned out to be bullet proof.”

He added that “I don’t have any read out on the dinner last night as I wasn’t there and they’ve kept it pretty close to themselves as to what transpired and what did not.”

He said “they did at least agree that it was worth continuing the talks. They will continue at least until Sunday.

He said the negotiation “requires a bit of compromise from both side” and “hopefully we will see a positive outcome”.

Later he told Regional Independent TD Verona Murphy that "we are doing what we can to protect our fishing industry".

Ms Murphy said that in coastal areas fishing was “not just an industry it is an entire community whose very survival depends on them fishing”.

She pointed out that the protection of fisheries is mentioned 12 times in the programme for government which also states that the Government would seek from the European Commission “a contingency support and market disturbance fund for the fisheries sector to mitigate against the impact of Brexit”.

She said the fisheries sector was waiting with bated breath on their fate.

Mr Varadkar said the negotiations were still underway and fisheries was part of that.

He said that the UK leaves the EU on January 1st and “in leaving the EU it takes its waters with it”.

The Tánaiste said Ireland had been catching about 35 per cent of its fish in UK waters. “that may not be open to us in future but we are doing our best to retain access to as much of those waters as possible”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times