Welcome to the Houses of the Oireachtas
There will be a special meeting of the several committees with Guy Verhofstadt MEP, the European Parliament’s Brexit Coordinator, this morning from 10:30am.
The committees meeting Mr Verhofstadt for engagement are: Joint Committee on European Union Affairs meeting with the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence, and the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
In his address, Mr Verhofstadt reiterated that “the Irish border and all things related are a priority for negotiations” for the EU. The “unique solution” to Brexit issues in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the UK government, which must consider the Good Friday Agreement. He suggested Northern Ireland could continue to be in the customs union and the single market post-Brexit as way to prevent a hard border on the island.
Mr Verhofstadt concluded his address with a lovely Seamus Heaney quote: “believe that a further shore is reachable from here.”
Mr Verhofstadt is on the second day of a two-day Brexit fact-finding mission on the island of Ireland. He met Northern Irish political party leaders on Wednesday, and will meet the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on today.
Yesterday, Mr Verhofstadt said the UK had the responsibility to find a “unique solution” to the border issue. He suggested that Northern Ireland could continue to be in the customs union and the single market after Brexit as a way to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland – but this was a decision for the UK.
All eyes on Theresa
A special cabinet meeting at Downing Street this morning will give its formal backing to Prime Minister Theresa May’s landmark Brexit speech, which she will deliver in Florence tomorrow.
But remember: devolution revolution
This week, Scottish and Welsh governments published proposals for amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon and First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones said the Bill is a “power grab” of devolved responsibilities. Writing to the Prime Minister, they said their amendments would allow the bill to “work with, not against, devolution”.