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Order of Business
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I will begin by joining in the felicitous words about our good friend and colleague Senator Norris. He is an absolute gentleman as an individual and a great colleague and friend. He is a polymath who makes huge contributions to the Seanad across a range of issues, cultural, social, economic, legal and so on. His pioneering, mould-breaking and hugely change-making work in the area of establishing gay rights in this country cannot be understated. He deserves great credit from all of us and we are proud to have him as a colleague. He does a lot for the Seanad on a number of levels.
Many mainstream reliable British media sources are today reporting that there has been something of a breakthrough in the UK position on Brexit. There are reports that they are coming up with the divorce payment, but more importantly from an Irish context, there are reports that they are now willing to go without regulatory divergence on the Border, and at least acknowledge the Border issue in the negotiations in a serious fashion. That is a great breakthrough. The stated Irish position is that we want to maintain the customs union and the status quo. If we cannot do that, we want to establish the closest possible situation to that on an all-Ireland basis. We are working towards that.
In the constituency I come from, Cavan-Monaghan, there is a huge risk of a dislocation of jobs in the food processing sector, in agriculture and right across a range of areas if we do not achieve this. I am very committed to it. I ask the Leader that before our Taoiseach goes to the next critical summit to decide if we move to the next phase of the negotiations on Brexit, that we have a debate in this House and consider this issue again. Colleagues from all sides in this House have done some great pioneering work on the Brexit question. I appeal to the Leader to do that. It is important that we do and the Leader has a very definite commitment in this regard because he has given me personal assurances on it on a number of occasions. We cannot put up to 40,000 people out of work in this State over Brexit. We will have to stand firm on it.