Irish opposition voice disappointment at rejection of Brexit deal

Opposition leaders in Ireland have voiced their disappointment at rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons.

MPs voted to reject the deal for a third time on Friday.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said the “political circus” at Westminster was increasing the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit.

“The behaviour of the DUP has been reckless and outrageous,” she said.

“They have been seduced by the games at Westminster at the cost of farmers, the economy and the views of the majority in the north.

“Our economy, the rights of citizens and our hard-won agreements cannot be collateral damage to Westminster.”

Ms McDonald said the EU had made it clear that the Withdrawal Agreement would not be reopened, renegotiated or its protections reduced.

“There cannot be a hard border across Ireland,” she said.

“Now is the time for resolute and determined leadership.”

Sinn Fein is due to meet EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and other European leaders in Brussels on Monday.

“We will be pressing the case that in a crash-out Brexit, the EU must continue to act in the interests of all Ireland and support for our agreements, rights and economy,” she said.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said a further extension to Article 50 was needed to ease tensions.

“We now are in an extremely serious situation,” Mr Martin told RTE Radio One.

“It’s time perhaps to give time to it in terms of an extension and to calm things down.”

He added that a “pressure cooker atmosphere” had enveloped Westminster but that politicians needed to remember that people’s livelihoods were at stake.

“A no deal would be devastating for the agri-food industry in Ireland. It would devastate the British economy, and the time for putting politics before the livelihoods of people is long over,” he said.

“There’s a need now to think of businesses, to think of jobs.”

The party’s Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers said a no-deal Brexit remained a distinct possibility and that intensive efforts must now be made to avoid such a “catastrophic outcome”.

Ms Chambers said she hoped that common sense would prevail in the UK, but she said clarity was needed from the Irish government on what would happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“The clock is winding down and it is incumbent upon the Irish government to ensure that the general public and members of the Oireachtas are fully aware of how it plans to traverse a no-deal exit should it come to pass,” she said.

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