That no UK Government Department has a working group focused on its relationship with Ireland, and the issues affecting that relationship, for when the UK leaves the European Union is a matter of serious concern at the moment.
It has become apparent that 18 working groups have been set up across a variety of Government Departments, but not one of these has the express focus of ensuring that, post-Brexit, the relationship with Ireland, in terms of trade, travel, tourism, agriculture, the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Peace Process is protected.
This has come as a major surprise to me, and I would assume to the Irish Government. Of course, how the UK Government runs its departments is a matter for the UK Government, but on an issue such as this, where the potential ramifications are so profound for both the UK and Ireland, it beggars belief that no working group has been established.
I understand that within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, here in Ireland, there are a number of working groups tasked with mapping out the potential impact of Brexit. I have no doubt that a large part of their work is focused on the UK-Ireland dimension to the UK leaving the European Union.
What’s very concerning to me, however, is that despite the repeated assertions from the UK Government that the Irish question is high on their list of priorities, the follow through into planning doesn’t seem to be taking place.