The Tánaiste has said the Government today progressed its plans for a no-deal Brexit in the areas of transport and medicines.

Simon Coveney said that while all eyes were on the House of Commons tonight, the Government's planning continues for all outcomes, including no deal.

Minister for Health Simon Harris advised the Government that contingency plans are in place for the supply of critical medicines.

This will include where necessary "identifying clinically appropriate alternatives to these small number of vulnerable products".

Minister Harris has also asked people not to stockpile medicines ahead of Brexit, as this could have the unintended consequence of disrupting supply chains and causing shortages.

Asked about the list of 24 medicines that are on a watch list in relation to Brexit, Minister Harris said that among the products that are being watched are intravenous foods and some radiotherapy products.

He said there is not a finalised or definitive list of products and "it is an ongoing piece of work".

The Government's approach to its no-deal Brexit legislation was also finalised and it will comprise of 17 parts.

This will cover areas such as: health, communications, education, finance, employment and justice.

At today's Cabinet meeting, Minister for Transport Shane Ross told his colleagues that the scale of checks at ports in a hard Brexit scenario would result in delays.

But he said the Government's focus was to prevent congestion.

A watch list of 24 medicines has been identified by a special working group, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil earlier today. 

During the first Leaders' Questions of 2019, Mr Varadkar said about 60 to 70% of medicines either transit the UK or come from the UK so a watch list has been developed and 24 are the particular ones to look out for.

He said the working group have advised against stockpiling medicines as this would add to the problem.

Mr Varadkar added that they are working closely with the pharmaceutical industry and also the main wholesalers to make sure there is an adequate supply.


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He was responding to Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin who said there are 240 medicines listed as being in short supply and pharmacists are noticing this.

Mr Martin claimed the Government has treated the Dáil shabbily and badly in terms of Brexit preparedness.

He said that the document published before Christmas was too light in detail and needs fleshing out and he pointed out that there are only 25 Dáil sitting days before Brexit.

Mr Varadkar said that tonight we will allow the democratic process to take place in Westminster. 

He said the Cabinet discussed four memos in relation to a no deal scenario this morning, which the Government was to share with the Opposition this afternoon.

The memos are focused on the supply of medicines, transport, the common travel area and the major single piece of legislation that will encompass all the legal changes that a hard Brexit would set in train.

The Taoiseach said there are only six pieces of legislation on the list for this Dáil term as Brexit is being prioritised.

He said there is an omnibus bill containing all the necessary Brexit legislation with 17 different parts of legislation prepared.

However, the Government will resist bringing this legislation before the Dáil for as long as possible amid hopes that it may never be required.

In the meantime, the plans are taking shape, with Minister for Transport Shane Ross said to be working with other departments to ensure the minimal disruption of people and goods in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

The Government said it was confident the ports and airports would be ready in time for such an event.

The Taoiseach has said that the Government still believes a no-deal Brexit was unlikely.

But he said the country would be ready for one, however he warned that no country could be fully prepared for Brexit.

The Tánaiste has said that as the crucial Brexit votes gets under way in Westminster, the Government will continue to plan "for all contingencies, including a no-deal Brexit".

Earlier today, Mr Coveney said that the Government will be watching very closely what happens in Westminster, and will be staying close to the British government and the EU following the vote.

Speaking to RTÉ News, he said: "I think this is a week for Ireland to hold its nerve, to wait and see how things develop in parliament in Westminster, but to be sure that we are planning for all eventualities because of the uncertainty that is clearly there."

Leading business groups on both sides of the Irish border have warned that a 'no-deal' outcome would have devastating economic consequences for the all-island economy.

The IBEC-CBI Northern Ireland Joint Business Council said a no-deal Brexit would immediately put jobs and businesses at risk and jeopardise years of positive economic development and integration across the island.

Additional reporting: Conor McMorrow