The Irish government published an updated version of the Brexit Contingency Action Plan on Tuesday 9 July. The 117 page report outlines the government’s contingency plans in the case of a no deal, recognizing that there is now a ‘significant risk’ of the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal on 31 October. The updated document reflects the whole of government approach to contingency planning which has already taken place, as well as additional measures that will be put in place before the 31 October deadline. The report identified 11 key risks in a no-deal scenario as it warns of ‘the profound implications for Ireland on all levels’. In a press conference following the publication of the report Tánaiste Simon Coveney warned that a no-deal Brexit is ‘an ugly prospect’. A hard Brexit would present major macroeconomic, trade and sectoral challenges to the Irish economy and would be a ‘fundamental disrupter’ to the all island economy as it functions today. The plan paints a stark picture of the implications for Northern Ireland stating a no-deal scenario poses ‘profound political challenges’ and could have lasting societal impacts for Northern Ireland.
How the integrity of the single market can be protected while avoiding a hard border remains the fundamental issue for the government, with no clear solution being offered by any party. The major political question remains where the checks may take place in the case of a no-deal Brexit. This plan contains the first admission by the Irish government that checks on some goods imported from Northern Ireland will be necessary in the event of no deal. Tánaiste Simon Coveney said ‘we will need to take some action somewhere in our economy to ensure that we are protecting the integrity of the products that are then going to be sold on off Ireland’. However, the report contains no mention of how these checks may be carried out, with Simon Coveney insisting that there is no plan ‘sitting on a shelf somewhere’. The Tánaiste continued to insist that the government ‘will not place checks on the border, or close to it’.