Fianna Fáil’s Agriculture Spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue TD has said that the Government are sleepwalking into a major disaster after it confirmed that it does not know how many additional veterinary and controls officials will be operational after March 29th when the UK leaves the EU.
Deputy McConalogue was commenting as Minister Creed finally confirmed that he couldn’t confirm how many of the additional 300 veterinary inspectors, eventually downsized to 116 last month, announced by the Taoiseach to be recruited in the event of a hard border would be recruited and in place by March 29th.
“The abject failure to prepare for all eventualities is truly shocking. The lack of Brexit preparedness by Minister Creed for Ireland’s most exposed sector will worry rural communities that are dependent on cross-border agri-trade.
“The impact on Irish agriculture arising from a doomsday type hard Brexit cannot be overstated, yet Minister Creed simply has no plans in place
“Minister Creed has now confirmed to me in writing that “The precise number of staff across the various work streams that will be in place by 29 March 2019 is not yet known.
“This is an astonishing acceptance and smacks of poor contingency planning for the agri-food sector.
“Bearing in mind that the Minister for Finance has already confirmed the number of additional customs officials that will be operational, it shows how poorly prepared Minister Creed and the Department of Agriculture are for a hard Brexit.
“The question must be asked why the Minister cannot provide the same data. More worryingly, the Minister confirmed that the first intake of new inspectors will only begin in early 2019’ – less than 10 weeks out from a potential hard Brexit.
“Additional, it is disturbing that both the Department of Agriculture and Office of Public Works have confirmed that no expenditure has been spent to date on upgrading infrastructure at Dublin and Rosslare ports in order to prepare for the possibility of the UK becoming a third country. This will require additional export certification and SPS controls.
“It’s now clear to me that Minister Creed has no plans to stop Irish agriculture falling over the Brexit cliff. Minister Creed must come before the Oireachtas Agricutlrue Committee and explain the current state of preparedness,” concluded McConalogue.