Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the role her Department is playing to ensure that no hard border is reintroduced here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40464/16]
57. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide an update on discussions her Department has undertaken on Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40462/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 50 and 57 together.
Substantial preparations in relation to the impact of a UK vote to leave the EU on the Department's areas of responsibility have been underway for some time now. A working group, chaired by an Assistant Secretary, was set up in the Department in April 2016 to examine these issues, and weekly progress updates are provided to the Department's Management Board on the analysis and preparations under way.
The Department is also represented by an Assistant Secretary on the Interdepartmental Group on EU/UK Affairs which is chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach. The Interdepartmental Committee is engaged with the identification of key strategic, operational and policy issues arising from Brexit.
Insofar as border matters are concerned, both the Irish and British Governments have made it clear that it is their wish to maintain the Common Travel Area arrangements after the UK leaves the European Union, and that neither Government wishes to see a hard border between both parts of the Island. This policy priority is central to the above preparations and analysis, and retaining the Common Travel Area will be a key issue for Ireland in the context of negotiating new terms and conditions for the EU’s relationship with the UK, and in engagement with all relevant parties in this regard.