Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the government needs to step up its efforts to prepare businesses and farmers along the Border for Brexit next year. The agrifood, engineering and construction products sectors, which have large bases in Cavan and Monaghan, are heavily dependent on exports to Northern Ireland and the British market.
Deputy Smith raised this issue with the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation in the Dáil this week.
“Businesses along the Border are experiencing huge uncertainty as Brexit comes down the tracks and they need the government to step up to the mark and back them. To date, the government’s preparedness levels have been haphazard and businesses and farmers are worried about the post-Brexit scenario. They want to secure the current level of jobs in the region and many would hope to expand over the coming years, but are being held back as a result of the current uncertainty”, said Deputy Brendan Smith.
“The government regularly refers to Brexit initiatives that it’s rolling out, however, there has been a very low take up of both the Be Prepared grant and the Brexit Readiness voucher. The Minister herself admitted that only 12 firms have applied for working capital under the Brexit loan scheme.
“I am also concerned about the lack of government information available about the impact of Brexit on the Border area. There is some academic research being undertaken, but the Minister failed to confirm if her Department had commissioned any reports into this specific aspect of Brexit.
“Fianna Fáil has been consistent in calling on the government to step up its domestic preparedness for Brexit, including a no deal scenario. Following recent resignations in Britain, it is all the more important that the government here does not take anything for granted. Ministers need to adopt a more reasoned and cohesive approach to negotiations than they have to date. Far too many jobs and livelihoods are at stake to be ill-prepared or complacent”.