Donegal County Councillor Liam Doherty has criticised the government for what he says has been their failure to assist border businesses adequately prepare for the outcome of Brexit.
The Finn Valley-based Sinn Féin councillor has said some of the initiatives rolled out to date by government to help businesses prepare for Britain’s withdrawal as ‘nothing more than window-dressing’.
Cllr Doherty is calling on the government and state agencies to be much more proactive in their approach to ensuring business preparedness.
He said: “It is incredible that this week we heard from Enterprise Minister Heather Humphries take to the airwaves to tell businesses to step up their ‘Brexit preparedness’ when it is the government itself that is failing in this regard.
“The government is of course making a lot of noise and has been urging companies to avail of state supports and even advising them to contact their local enterprise Ireland office for news on supply chains.
“These may make nice sound bites and is clearly an attempt from this administration to highlight the work it’s doing to help business get ready for Brexit day but, in reality, a lot of these initiatives have been nothing but window dressing.”
As Brexit deadline looms on March 29th, Cllr Doherty said businesses are not getting the support they need from the state:
“We’re six weeks away from a potential no-deal Brexit and the best that this government can come up with is a help-line and a slideshow from consultants. – this is not good enough in my view,” he said.
“Enterprise Ireland has already warned that some 25,000 jobs could be lost in a no-deal scenario, and there’s little doubt that the border region would see its fair share of any potential job cuts.
“I speak with business owners and employers here from across the border region every single day and, based on what they are telling me about their experiences, businesses here are being left to their own devices in terms of Brexit planning and are being left without much in the way of practical support from the state.
“I am talking about the local shop keeper, the butcher, local retailers, hoteliers, restaurateurs, farmers and small manufacturers, all of whom speak of feeling cast adrift.”
Cllr Doherty suggested that his party’s document on Brexit preparedness has the answers to impending economic disruption:
“Sinn Féin has repeatedly highlighted the need for direct government support for businesses, particularly border businesses which, given their close proximity to the border, stand to be most adversely affected.
“Importers and exporters based locally and that trade exclusively with Britain, the vast majority of which are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), have voiced real fears that – given they have neither the expertise, scale or resources to easily change practices or navigate the complexities of heightened red tape – they are seriously ill prepared for a potential crash out Brexit by the end of March 2019.
“Instead, government is demanding the impossible of our SMEs and, when challenged about their approach, Fine Gael chooses to hide behind a helpline, slideshows or seminars yet, there is very little tangible support being made available to business.
“Sinn Féin on the other hand has listened to the concerns of businesses and, last week, the party launched its document on Brexit preparedness which includes a number of practical supports businesses should be able to avail of as Brexit looms.
“The package equates to a €2bn Brexit stabilisation fund which would be in addition to any EU supports for agriculture and exporters.
“Sinn Féin’s plan will address things like structural issues, while mitigating the short-term effects of Brexit on our exporters.
“The time for action is now and I am calling on government to get its act together fast and provide local businesses here in the border region with the supports they need to survive and be sustainable despite all the uncertainty Brexit will create.”Tags: