Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Monday, 14 June 2021
Seanad Committee on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union
Impact of Brexit on the Food and Drink Industry: Discussion
I thank the Senator for his wise words and it is good that he referred to the impact on the citizen, and people.
Everyone who had indicated a wish to contribute has done so and we are fast approaching the hour. I will make a couple of remarks and then the three witnesses can make closing comments.
As was mentioned by Senator Gallagher, we are coming towards producing our interim report, which we will be publishing next month. At every meeting, we ask our witnesses what specific recommendations they would like to see reflected in that report. I gather from listening to the responses of all three of our witnesses today that they want to see the rules of origin issue pushed at Government level and at EU level. Their asks or proposals are extremely reasonable. They ask that new free trade agreements be dealt with in a different manner which involves a new way of looking at rules of origin. Seeking to incorporate a new interpretation of rules of origin when free trade agreements come up for renewal is a very pragmatic approach to take to the issue. It may be of interest to note that Commissioner McGuinness is to come before a meeting of the committee tomorrow morning. We will get a chance to raise that matter directly with our commissioner on behalf of the witnesses.
We would all agree that the dairy and whiskey industries are of great importance with regard to our exports. As Senator Joe O'Reilly pointed out, this touches every part of the island. In my own county of Mayo, a number of new whiskey distilleries have popped up in recent years. They are creating local employment and feeding into the local tourism and hospitality industry. It is really important that we support the sector. It is only common sense that an all-island approach should be taken to the issue. It does not make sense to leave it the way it is. It is actually quite farcical. It is one of the many fallouts of Brexit with which we unfortunately have to deal.
I will go through the witnesses in reverse order, starting with Dr. Johnston before moving on to Mr. Mulvihill and Mr. Lavelle, for their closing remarks before we wrap up.