In recent days, to say the least, the discussions and negotiations on Brexit have been frantic. The Taoiseach said yesterday that he was confident that a deal could be negotiated, something everybody in this House wants for the country and its people. However, outside his assurances, there is huge uncertainty in the air. Depending on the report one reads or the radio interview to which one listens, the degree of uncertainty varies. That uncertainty is hugely worrying for all citizens on this island, but it is especially worrying and urgent for businesses across the island which are crucially dependent on certainty, especially on supply chains to the United Kingdom. There is uncertainty about a hassle-free landbridge across the United Kingdom into markets in continental Europe and beyond. Owing to the uncertainty businesses on this island are already losing contracts because they cannot ensure certainty in 2019 on their supply chain to the United Kingdom and beyond. Losing contracts means that opportunities are being lost employment wise and that people will be discommoded. It is an absolute no-no that they would lose contracts and that we would have to pay the price of the British Brexit folly.
The Tánaiste was on radio this morning telling us that there was no need to panic. He said he agreed with the Taoiseach and "was confident" that a deal could be done. However, President Tusk says there are "no grounds for optimism" and called again on Prime Minister May to break the impasse and bring forward new proposals. When our ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr. Adrian O'Neill, addressed the British Academy and the Royal Irish Academy, he said it was disappointing and concerning that more progress had not been made on Northern Ireland. He also said the British were "backsliding" on the Northern Ireland backstop by demanding that it be time limited. He went on to say it was not consistent with what had been agreed to last December and March. As a former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade who was involved in the early stages of the negotiations, does the Minister agree with Ambassador O'Neill's assessment of the current position?
Given that President Tusk has written to all member states to ask them to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, what plans does the Government have in place for businesses, citizens and employees for UK-Ireland supply chains and the landbridge across the United Kingdom into key markets in continental Europe and beyond?