The Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs has said that any company who has not appointed an employee to understand the issue of Brexit on their behalf is foolish.
Simon Coveney was in Letterkenny today for a Getting Ireland Brexit Ready workshop at the Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
He told businesses that they had “their heads in the sand” if they are not asking questions about Brexit.
The Tanaiste stressed the need for business people to ensure that their companies are ‘Brexit-ready.’
He said “If there is one piece of advice that I could give you very directly today regardless of what size your business is, whether you have got half a dozen people of whether you’ve got 600 people working for your business, whether it’s a family business or whether it’s larger than that – if you don’t have at least one person in your business who makes it their business to understand all the complexities of Brexit and to engage with Local Enterprise Offices and if necessary to engage with the IDA or whoever the appropriate agency is in your sector then I think you are being very foolish.
“This is something that businesses need to watch closely and understand so they can anticipate the changes that their businesses may need to adapt to. And they may need to understand what’s there to help them do it from the State.
“We have essentially set aside hundreds of millions of euro to help businesses make the transition through the Brexit process and out the other end without too much damage.”
Donegal was not originally listed as part of the Brexit roadshow plans aimed at explaining the challenges of life in Ireland after Britain pulls out of the EU.
However, the Tanaiste said he was approached by then Government Chief Whip and local TD, Minister Joe McHugh about the importance of holding such an event in Donegal.
The event also included ‘breakout sessions’ and also 12 information stands manned by Government agencies including Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Bord Bia, Failte Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Office, Health and Safety Authority, National Standards Authority of Ireland and Intertrade Ireland.
On the question of the border, the Tanaiste said there is no part of Ireland more reliant on relationships between Northern Ireland and Ireland than Donegal.
He told the audience of more than 400 business leaders and company owners that the Irish Government has worked hard to ensure there is nor return to a hard border.
“We haven’t spent the past two years building solidarity across the European Union to understand the vulnerability and fragility of Ireland and the relationships on the island of Ireland in the context of border infrastructure being an unintended consequence of the fall-out of Brexit.
“We haven’t spent that time with a view to simply saying ‘well if the current deal that is on the table doesn’t work then we will simply have to accept that border infrastructure will simply have to re-emerge.’
“We won’t accept that but what I can tell you is that the deal that is currently agreed and is on the table solves this problem comprehensively taking on board all the different political concerns and commercial concerns and challenges and in many ways this famous backstop solution that is there now in an agreed text is a fall-back position, an insurance mechanism essentially if all else fails.
“But it really does give Northern Ireland special treatment, the best of both worlds in many ways where trade for a business in Northern Ireland will be uninhibited, trading through the EU into Ireland or trading into the rest of the United Kingdom.
“We have worked really hard and been firm and consistent but respectful of all the political perspectives in this debate to get a balance and sensible withdrawal agreement signed off in the last two weeks.”
Minister for Education Joe McHugh and MEP Mairead McGuinness also attended the roadshow.
Minister McHugh said Donegal had many examples of the fluidity of people travelling across the border.
“I’m delighted that Minister Coveney is here today to reassure people that we will not be returning in any way to a hard border and that we build on those strengths. We should continue to put the Good Friday Agreement at the centre of all deliberations,” he said.
The Tanaiste added that there is still hope of getting the deal signed off in Westminster on December 11th saying he thought ‘Theresa May has been underestimated at every step of the Brexit process.”
“Our role has to be to ensure people and particular Unionists in Northern Ireland that this solution does not undermine the United Kingdom as a whole in any way,” he said.Tags: