Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Implications of Brexit for Agriculture Sector: Discussion
I congratulate the witnesses for their presentations. It is amazing how things can move on; when they began their presentation there was no movement and now there is significant movement. We could be out of date by the time we leave the room after the meeting.
The direction in which Brexit would go has been the topic of concern for businesses and communities for the last two and a half years. We might get some clarity today about the Border issue. Like the witnesses, I am also waiting for the detail and when we have that we will be better informed. As a business community, how prepared are we for what Brexit could bring? The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has had four major events around the country in the last month and significant interaction with the business community. Many stakeholders were involved and they have been very well attended. Do the witnesses feel that the business community has interacted sufficiently and worked with their own businesses on the issues? There was reference to the €300 million in Brexit loans. Has there been engagement with the business community on the loan itself? Has it engaged with the process and brought forward proposals in order that companies can draw down that funding? Has the UK put in place financial supports or programmes to inform businesses and society that are similar to what has been put in place in Ireland in the past six or eight months? My view might be partial but while I have seen some interaction with business here, I have not seen it on the other side of the water. While a text has been somewhat agreed today, the political issues must still be played through in Westminster, which probably will be more problematic than the text itself. How prepared are our neighbours for a hard border? Are they ready, have they engaged and do they have the information and loans?