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Monday 10 December 2018

'Everything, including CAP, will be hit if there is a hard Brexit'

President of IFA Joe Healy and RTE's Europe Editor Tony Connelly guest speakers at the
President of IFA Joe Healy and RTE's Europe Editor Tony Connelly guest speakers at the "Brexit Masterclass" held at the Loughrea Hotel, Co. Galway. Photograph: Hany Marzouk
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Everything will be hit, including CAP, if there is a hard Brexit, RTE Europe Editor Tony Connelly told a recent Brexit conference.

"The EU budget would be impacted and CAP would come under attack," Mr Connelly said, adding though, that he was of the view that the Commission didn't want a radically cut CAP budget because of Brexit - but that was under the scenario that there would be a withdrawal agreement.

"I think everything will be hit if there is a hard Brexit," he added.

Tariffs, currency fluctuations and corporation tax were among the concerns raised by more than 230 small business owners and interest group representatives at the event this week.

The event held in Loughrea, Co Galway, and organised by Supermac's, was also addressed by IFA president Joe Healy.

Mr Healy said that some people questioned whether Ireland had allowed itself to become too dependent on the UK as an export market for food.

However he pointed to fact that when Ireland first joined what was then the EEC in 1973, 70pc of agri-exports were going to the UK. Today this figure is around 40pc.

Nonetheless, the agri-food sector is set to be disproportionately impacted by Brexit. Mr Connelly noted that within weeks of the Brexit vote taking place, five mushroom businesses in Ireland went to the wall, due in part to the impact of the fall in the value of sterling.

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Ann Mitchell, a member of Galway IFA, asked whether the budget for Europe's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would by affected under a no-deal scenario between the UK and the EU.

Mr Healy went on to say that a fear for the IFA is that the UK, post-Brexit, pursue a "cheap food policy... importing food from places like South America".

Mr McDonagh, CEO of Supermac's, said that he was hosting the event because Brexit is something "we are all still learning about".

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