Ireland on verge of government COLLAPSE: Brexit impact imminent

Friday, November 24, 2017
By Paul Martin

AS IRELAND faces its most crucial weeks in decades, with the Brexit deadline on the nation’s border fast approaching, a shock government collapse in Dublin appears to have given Theresa May an unexpected boost.

Fri, Nov 24, 2017

Ireland has consistently played hardball with the UK on the sensitive issue of the post-Brexit border between the Republic and the north of Ireland, leaving Theresa May and her Brexit ministers scrambling to progress in EU talks.

But a surprise collapse in the fragile minority-led Irish government has left the country on the brink of a general election just three weeks before next month’s key EU summit.

Political turmoil in Ireland will only help Mrs May’s government, who have struggled to cope with the determined stance in Dublin on the border issue – despite warnings stretching back months.

Last week Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was seemingly taken aback when he was told by Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney, mid-press conference, Ireland expected a transition period of up to five years – in part to protect border communities.

And Dublin has repeatedly demanded more information on the UK’s plans for a post-Brexit border, which has thus far been all-but empty of concrete detail other than lukewarm and misguided assurances to avoid “physical infrastructure”.

Indeed Ireland has become increasingly frustrated in recent weeks at the UK’s apparent surprise at the great importance put on the border issue. Despite months of warnings from leaders in Dublin, Stormont and Brussels, the future of the invisible border between the two states went all but ignored during the Brexit referendum.

Instead Brexit campaigners focused on ending EU laws, the financial benefits of leaving the bloc and the “taking back control” of Britain’s borders – without actually discussing how this would effect the UK’s only physical border with the EU.

But last night a long-rumbling Gardai (police) scandal in the Republic threatened to end the 18-month agreement between the Ireland’s two biggest parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

A breakdown of the minority Fine Gael government’s cooperation deal, which has worked relatively smoothly up until now, would likely lead to an election in December or January.

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