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That was the week that was

Although a lot went on last week, it was a week dominated again by Brexit.

Dark clouds gathered at the start of the week, as the UK Government prepared once again to break international law by failing to implement the Withdrawal Agreement.

On Monday, I did interviews with the BBC and Sky News. I described the UK approach as ‘diplomatic vandalism’ as well as saying that Northern Ireland had become collateral damage in the Tory civil war.

Speaking to UK journalists, you do get the impression that they are as fed up with Boris as most Irish people are and would be just as happy to be shot of him.

On Tuesday, there was a long meeting of the Development Committee on the fairly obscure topic of the ‘nexus’ between humanitarian, development and peace programmes carried out by NGOs and the UN. From a policy point of view, it interests me although I am more than aware that it is of no interest to anyone at home, bar the NGOs themselves.

This was followed by a confidential briefing from Maros Sefcovic for the UK contact group - while there are about 10 or 12 members, only 6 MEPs showed up. This shows how Brexit has completely fallen down the priority list for the EU.

Commissioner Sefcovic is a very patient man and set out clearly the strategic approach to the latest Tory provocations. My own view is that the EU will batten down the hatches until the autumn and see if Boris survives. There is no point making concessions when he could be replaced by an even more hardline Brexiteer.

Myself and some other Irish MEPs had dinner with the CEO of Permanent TSB and with the CEO of the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI), Brian Hayes. The main topic of discussion was how to manage the transfer of mortgage and other accounts held by Ulster Bank and KBC, both of whom are exiting the Irish market.

They are exiting basically because it’s not profitable enough - I can’t see a problem with having only three retail banks so long as they don’t overcharge their customers. Too much competition in banking can lead to too much risk and the creation of all sorts of ‘products’ that consumers don’t really need.

Wednesday was busy with various briefings in the morning on Ukraine, youth activism and the FEMM committee. I addressed an executive leadership programme run by the CBI at lunchtime and then attended a meeting of the Trade committee, also on the subject of Ukraine. I also did an interview with Eddie Mair on LBC.

That evening, I was guest speaker at the European Contact Group, an informal group of professional services companies in Brussels like PWC, Deloitte and EY.

Before flying home on Thursday morning, I attended a meeting on Supply chains organised by the German Chemical Industry. That evening, back in Dublin I was guest speaker at the Law Society where 60 new solicitors received their scrolls.

Friday was fairly quiet although I got a late call for an interview with Cormac O hEadhra on Drivetime - the issue was the superb news that Ukraine had taken a step closer to becoming a member of the EU.

Finally, on Saturday I handed out medals at Cabinteely FC’s mini-world cup. It was superbly well organised and it was great to see many old friends including Tommy Murphy and his son Dale. Tommy organised the mixed ability section of the tournament - an excellent antidote to Brexit.

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