Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Cross Border Co-Operation and TD for Louth Declan Breathnach says Brexit is one of the greatest challenges facing Ireland and has called on the Government to set out a detailed plan to provide certainty for border communities.

Deputy Breathnach made the comments after hosting a conference in Dundalk which brought together industry experts, members of the public and political representatives to determine the key issues which must be addressed as border communities prepare for Brexit.

“Since the vote back in June, we have seen extreme volatility in the markets, a collapse in Sterling and a shift in competitiveness. These issues pose major problems for the island of Ireland, but particularly for communities along the border. Shoppers are already heading North to avail of cheaper prices and this spells bad news for businesses and farmers in border communities.

“Brexit has already had a detrimental impact on the mushroom industry and it could potentially wreak havoc across the agri-food sector as farmers struggle to remain competitive. Fianna Fáil has consistently argued that the Government must have a clear and comprehensive plan of action for dealing with these challenges.

“Fianna Fáil arranged this conference with the view to identifying solutions to help overcome the challenges associated with Brexit. The Carrickdale Hotel, where this conference was held, is just yards away from the old customs check point that existed along the border. The speakers that attended the event today all agreed on one thing – a return to such a system would be detrimental for border communities. The Government must ensure that no hard border is re-introduced.

“The conference also made it clear that a coordinated cross-party effort is needed to deal with Brexit. To this end our conference brought together a wide range of industry leaders and community activists to help identify practical solutions to minimise the impact of Brexit.

Deputy Breathnach further warned that the Government runs the risk of walking into a crisis should it not step up its efforts to deal with Brexit.

“Brexit is the greatest economic challenge facing Ireland in a generation. The outcome of the election in the United States adds to this challenge. Fine Gael has shown a lack of interest in issues affecting Border areas in recent years, and a serious change in direction is now needed to confront the problems arising from Brexit,” concluded Deputy Breathnach.