Michel Barnier was on the wrong end of several barbed comments from Irish politicians who had just sat through the speech by the Brussels bigwig.
The high-ranking Eurocrat was invited to address both houses of Irish government today, an honour usually reserved for historic heads of state including Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.
However after giving the speech, which warned Brexit will come “at a cost” for all EU member states, he was hit with a series of criticisms from a small number of nonplussed members of parliament (TDs).
Socialist TD Richard Boyd Barrett took umbrage at the measures forced on Ireland following the bailout during the economic crash, explaining it had inflicted “cruel and absolutely vicious austerity” on the country.
He then accused Mr Barnier and his Brussels colleagues of working towards a “Fortress Europe” at the expense of the individual member states.
The TD said: “This week 350 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean because of the EU’s ‘Fortress Europe’ policies.”
Finally he refused to acknowledge the EU’s right to negotiate outright with Britain, instead calling for an Irish referendum on whether or not to accept the final exit deal.
He said: “I don’t trust the European Union, Mr Barnier, to do a deal which will vindicate the need and aspirations of this country.”
Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein’s leader in the Republic and TD for Louth, also hit out at Mr Barnier’s assertion a good deal will be reached between Ireland and England.
He spent several minutes explaining the history of Anglo-Irish relations, concluding Theresa May’s insistence Northern Ireland will leave the EU despite a huge majority voting to remain is just the latest instance of British arrogance towards the island.
He warned Mr Barnier: “Brexit will affect our entire island if we let it. It is already having a major negative effect.”
He said in light of challenges posed by Brexit, including the potential reintroduction of a hard border, Northern Ireland should be granted special status and be allowed to remain in the EU.
Mr Adams also called for a referendum on whether Ireland should accept the terms of the final Brexit deal agreed between Mr Barnier and the UK – further chipping away at Mr Barnier’s right to negotiate on behalf of an entire union of states.