Fianna Fáil MEP candidate for Midlands North West Brendan Smith TD says he will fight to secure a Brexit Emergency Fund for businesses and those involved in farming and the agri-food sector in the border counties. He has accused the Fine Gael government of failing to protect these businesses as the Brexit uncertainty continues.

Deputy Smith said, “As a former Agriculture Minister I am acutely aware of the challenges facing farmers and those involved in the agri-food sector. Similarly businesses across Cavan and Monaghan are being left exposed because Fine Gael has not undertaken the necessary steps to help them to prepare for a post-Brexit Ireland.

“A round of roadshows is not enough to equip farmers and business people to deal with what potentially could be a chaotic British exit from the EU and the uncertainty which has been allowed to develop over the past three years has only made a difficult situation worse.

“Cavan and Monaghan are home to industries, which are most vulnerable to Brexit – including farming, transport, tourism, agri-food and manufacturing. These sectors will all be in need of urgent financial support to withstand the potential losses expected when Britain leaves the European Union.

“Despite all of the warnings, Fine Gael has taken a hands-off approach when it comes to arguing for and securing funding from Europe to help the sectors which we know are going to be impacted by Brexit. The much hyped low cost loan scheme for farmers, which was announced back in October 2017 only opened at the end of March – in fact it was the week that Britain was originally meant to leave the EU. That wouldn’t have given farmers much time to put a plan in place to cope with the fallout.

“I am calling for the establishment of an Irish Brexit Emergency Fund to provide the necessary economic supports for critical infrastructure projects, agri businesses and vulnerable sectors. This funding could also be used to encourage and sustain rural development.

“The border counties need a strong, experienced and hard-working MEP to stand up for the region and to secure the investments needed to encourage growth in the area. I am that candidate and I will fight for Cavan, Monaghan and counties across the Midlands-North-West region”, concluded Deputy Smith.