'Crippling' trade tariffs would be 'devastating'
Published 26/10/2016 | 02:30
Possible trade tariffs as a result of Brexit would cripple the agri-food industry here and have a devastating impact, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has warned.
He said the Government should also appoint a Brexit minister to co-ordinate Ireland's response to the June 23 vote.
Mr Ahern was addressing a UK House of Lords inquiry into the impact of the UK's EU referendum result on Irish-UK relations alongside former Taoiseach John Bruton.
Mr Bruton accepted a post-Brexit border on the island would become a "smugglers' charter", and also warned of the potential for violence as a result of "negative symbolism".
"The sense of being isolated, the sense of being in a sense disregarded, or in a permanent minority, lay behind some of the very aggressive tactics that were adopted by Republicans and loyalists at times as well," Mr Bruton said.
"So that sense of isolation is at some risk of being aggravated by the fact we will no longer be in the same economic union as we are now."
He said we shouldn't "underestimate the damage that negative symbolism can have as a generator of violence".
Mr Ahern said the impact of Brexit on Ireland's home-grown companies that export to the UK, particularly in agri-food, is significant.
"To set up a whole bureaucratic system with high tariffs that would cripple the industry would be devastating," he said.
He dismissed a report stating the UK could shift the frontline of immigration controls to Ireland's ports and airports.