Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Monday, 29 March 2021
Seanad Committee on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union
Impact of Brexit on Business Sector: Discussion
Ms Julie Sinnamon:
I will kick off with a couple of specifics and then bring in Ms Dwyer on the agricultural side. With regard to the take-up of supports, earlier I gave a figure of €121 million. Since 23 June 2016, when the UK voted for Brexit, the three pillars of our strategy to support Irish companies have been innovation, competitiveness and internationalisation. While we look at times at Brexit supports, the take-up of the customs grants and the number of people using ready reckoners, everything we have been doing has been to try to make companies more competitive when going into the UK or any other market they have been in, and trying to broaden the global footprint to get them to look at new markets. The demand for competitiveness, the innovation agenda and all of these products and services has been strong and growing. They do not necessarily get listed in the Covid product schemes when people are looking at some of the more immediate specific schemes but for us all of this investment is about helping companies deal with Brexit.
Specifically on personal protective equipment and the issues that became obvious in the wake of Covid, with masks being one of them, the EU brought in a Covid product scheme. We have had a strong flow. Many of them have not been announced but significant investments are being made in companies to produce products in Ireland that previously were all coming from China, the Far East and other parts of the world. One of the legacies of this has been that it has raised issues of self-sufficiency for products that were all being imported. We are working on an active group of investments with companies in response to Covid manufacturing projects to produce products largely focused on the Irish market, with some of them going into the UK market and further afield. There will be significant capacity here that would not have been here previously.
On the issue of recycling, one of our companies in Castleblayney, the Shabra Group, is in the plastic recycling business. There is something in place but the whole issue of recycling and reusing is a much bigger agenda today than it has been previously.
Just as the climate Bill will bring opportunities, it will have an impact for every sector of Irish enterprise. It will bring challenges and will also provide opportunities for companies. We have a great group of companies, for example, on the whole energy efficiency side, that are going around the world with expertise which is equally important in Ireland.
Perhaps Ms Dwyer wants to come in on the import substitution side with regard to some of the areas the Senator has raised.