Fine Gael must avoid drawn out leadership distraction during critical Brexit period

17th May 2017

Ireland cannot afford having a distracted Government over the coming months
The Green Party today warned that Fine Gael must avoid a long and drawn out leadership transition during the critical months ahead of the Brexit process.
Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan TD said today: “The rotation of the Fine Gael leadership needs to happen at double quick speed. We have seen in the past what happens when a Government is distracted by a leadership change. This is not the time for a long and drawn out leadership transition. 
“Ireland is facing one of the most critical periods in our history. We have an immediate problem in that we need strong and clear leadership at the upcoming European Council on the 22nd of June, where the timing of the Brexit talks should be on the agenda.
“The Government has got it wrong by backing a two stage process for the Brexit negotiations and this sequencing issue needs to be raised at the Council, and managed right through the Summer months.
“Whoever the next Taoiseach is needs to act immediately to press our European colleagues to adopt a more flexible negotiating approach. It is in our interests to avoid Britain simply crashing out of the EU, which would do us most harm but which other parties in Europe might be happy to allow.  There are voices in Europe pushing against what is in Ireland’s best interests. A chaotic Fine Gael will mean there is no one to counter these voices. Distraction would put a good deal for Ireland at risk. 
“The UK Brexit Minister David Davis said on Sunday that they cannot consider the Irish border issues without knowing what the wider customs agreement might be. He described the border issue with Ireland as being the 'row of the summer'. Meanwhile the EU negotiator Michel Barnier has made it clear that there will be no flexibility when it comes to the application of EU customs rules on the Irish /UK border.
“We need a more flexible approach to the talks, not to give concessions to the British - everyone can see that they have no real hand to play, but to avoid the whole process spinning out of control. It is no small task for any Taoiseach to try manage, let alone one who is brand new to the job.
“Whatever the Taoiseach announces to his party this evening, Fine Gael need to act fast to get back to the business of running the country, rather than worrying about their own individual futures.”