Irish government has made no preparations for hard border, says Varadkar

Commercial fishing trawlers in the town of Killybegs in County Donegal Ireland. Credit Steve Allen

Commercial fishing trawlers in the town of Killybegs in County Donegal Ireland. Credit Steve Allen

The NICS plan includes a "central hub" that will coordinate the strategic Northern Ireland response to Brexit.

Mr Dodds claimed: "The utter hypocrisy of those espousing the current withdrawal agreement with its trap of a backstop has been completely exposed".

"Given the proximity of the date of Brexit, it is now necessary in some cases to move from contingency planning to taking actions to mitigate the consequences of a no-deal Brexit", the Government states. What does that tell you?

"The notion that it's necessary to have a border and checks in the Irish Sea to avoid a border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic is an utter con trick".

Rosslare port will require 13 inspection bays for trucks disembarking ships, parking for 35 trucks, a dedicated border control post for live animals and a public office with six counters or hatches.

"The United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a deal in place is going to cause a significant stress to this country and to many sectors in the Irish economy", Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said.

"For us to be giving signals that there's any other way this could be solved would be foolish", he added.

The government's pledge to not impose immediate extra checks on agricultural products crossing the Irish border in the event of a no-deal Brexit has been hailed as a "step in the right direction".

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But he said it would not be helpful for a document, which runs to more than 130 pages, to be "dominated by that border debate".

Speaking at a media briefing in Dublin on Thursday, the Taoiseach said the draft agreement now tabled by Prime Minister Theresa May is the key to avoiding physical infrastructure on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Government has published its contingency plans for a no deal Brexit - admitting it makes "sobering reading".

"It is not the outcome we want and our focus continues to be on securing ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement".

"A no-deal Brexit would be an exceptional economic event which would be met with exceptional measures to support the continued operation of the Irish economy and our global trading links", the report says.

He said the EU's contingency plans avoided "spelling out what happens on the border".

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said the warning signs were there that no-deal would be an "economic disaster" and there was now growing concern in the business community.

The clause is seen as unacceptable to Remainers and Brexiteers alike, who have vowed to defeat Mrs May's plan in Parliament unless she is able to renegotiate the terms of the agreement.

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