Fianna Fáil’s Brexit Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has said that the Government has dithered in its response to the potential threats to the economy as a result of a hard Brexit, and has said that the domestic response must be ramped up dramatically to protect jobs.
Deputy Donnelly was responding to reports in the Irish media of an assessment, carried out by Copenhagen Economics, which suggest that a hard Brexit will result in a drop in economic output by €18 billion per annum and thousands of job losses across all sectors.
“We aren’t surprised by the contents of this report. Fianna Fáil has been warning the Government about the possible damage to Ireland. The report appears to be of the same view.
“This report should be a wakeup call to each and every Government Minister and Department. Every time Fianna Fáil or other stakeholders challenged the Government on its domestic Brexit preparedness, the Government trotted out the line that ‘Brexit hasn’t happened yet’. It’s this attitude that has resulted in all business sectors consistently reporting that they aren’t ready for Brexit.
“At present with the current status of negotiations between the UK and the EU, we are on the road to a hard Brexit and, ultimately for us here in Ireland, a hard border on the island.
“Even the most optimistic scenario with Northern Ireland staying in the Customs Union and Single Market will see a marked reduction in Irish GDP.
“Fianna Fáil has consistently supported the Irish Government’s negotiating stance on the international stage. However, we have major concerns with their, to date, support for Irish businesses attempting to plan for, and mitigate the impact, of a hard Brexit.
“I and my party colleagues in Foreign Affairs and Trade, Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Agriculture and Food have repeatedly warned that business, employer and agriculture groups are receiving no tangible support from the Government to prepare them for Brexit.
“We have seen delays in the publishing of Sectoral Exposure Analyses, if they even exist at all, and through our engagement with organisations representing the interests of farmers, fishermen, exporters, health professionals and many others, it is obvious that domestically the Government is not preparing the Irish economy in the way it needs to withstand the consequences of a hard Brexit.
“The chest beating of the past 18 months needs to be cooled down, and we need to start doing the ground work needed to protect Irish jobs.
“Michel Barnier’s comments yesterday underscore the major challenges that face the EU and Ireland in terms of finalising a settlement with the UK Government. The Government must act swiftly and decisively to protect Irish jobs,” concluded Donnelly.